November 07, 2007
Trust Your Medial Temporal Lobe Memories

"Your honor, I swear my memory of this business deal comes from my medial temporal lobe." Trust your memories from the medial temporal lobe (MTL) of your brain but don't get fooled by your frontal parietal network (FPN).

Cabeza wanted to understand why someone could have such strong feelings of confidence about false memories. In his experiments, he scanned the brains of healthy volunteers with functional MRI as they took well-established tests of memory and false memory. Functional MRI is an imaging technique that shows what areas of the brain are used during specific mental tasks.

During the brain scans, Cabeza found that volunteers who were highly confident in memories that were indeed true showed increased activity in the fact-oriented MTL region.

“This would make sense, because the MTL, with its wealth of specific details, would make the memory seem more vivid,” Cabeza said. “For example, thinking about your breakfast this morning, you remember what you had, the taste of the food, the people you were with. The added richness of these details makes one more confident about the memory’s truth.”

On the other hand, volunteers who showed high confidence in memories that turned out to be false exhibited increased activity in the impressionistic FPN. The people drawing from this area of the brain recalled the gist or general idea of the event, and while they felt confident about their memories, they were often mistaken, since they could not recall the details of the memory.

Imagine a witness being grilled while under a functional MRI brain scan device that tells whether answers to questons are coming from memories recalled from a reliable part of the brain.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 November 07 11:24 PM  Brain Memory

David Govett said at November 8, 2007 8:21 AM:

What a laugh! The guy doing the memory research is named Cabeza, which means "head" in Spanish. Coincidence?

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