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How are scents retained in your memory?

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  • A brain area is responsible for creating memories from smells
  • Piriform cortex which is a part of the olfactory brain helps distinguish smell

London, Dec 24, 2017: Ever wondered how you retain memories of your favourite dish cooked by your mother or your partner’s scent?

Scientists have found that a brain area is responsible for creating memories from smells as well as retaining those memories even years later.

The study showed that “the piriform cortex” — a part of the olfactory brain, that distinguishes smells — is involved in the process of saving those memories.

“It is known that the piriform cortex is able to temporarily store olfactory memories. We wanted to know, if that applies to long-term memories as well,” said Christina Strauch from the Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum in Germany.

In the study, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, the scientists wondered whether the piriform cortex needs to be instructed to create a long-term memory.

They then stimulated a higher brain area called the orbitofrontal cortex, which is responsible for the discrimination of sensory experiences. This time the stimulation of the brain area generated the desired change in the piriform cortex.

“Our study shows that the piriform cortex is indeed able to serve as an archive for long-term memories. But it needs instruction from the orbitofrontal cortex — a higher brain area — indicating that an event is to be stored as a long-term memory,” Strauch added. (IANS)

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Travelling To Space May Alter Brain, Says Study

Upon return to Earth, this process is then gradually reversed, which then results in a relative reduction of white matter volume

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According to co-author Andrew Casey, it was previously believed that the first stars that formed in the universe could not possibly still exist today. VOA

Spending long periods in space not only leads to muscle atrophy and reductions in bone density, it also has lasting effects on the brain, suggests a study.

The study, led by a team of neuroscientists from the University of Antwerp in Belgium and Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) of Munich, showed that differential changes in the three main tissue volumes of the brain remain detectable for at least half a year after the end of their last mission.

“Our results point to prolonged changes in the pattern of cerebrospinal fluid circulation over a period of at least seven months following the return to Earth,” said professor Peter zu Eulenburg from the LMU.

“However, whether or not the extensive alterations shown in the grey and the white matter lead to any changes in cognition remains unclear at present,” he added.

The study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, was carried out on ten cosmonauts, each of whom had spent an average of 189 days on board the International Space Station (ISS).

The magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) scans performed in the days after the return to Earth revealed that the volume of the grey matter was reduced compared to before launch.

ISS Launched First satellite For Cleaning Space Junk
Space travel can alter brain: Study, Pixabay

Seven months later, this effect was partly reversed, but nevertheless still detectable.

In contrast, the volume of the cerebrospinal fluid, which fills the inner and outer cavities of the brain, increased within the cortex during long-term exposure to microgravity.

Further, the white matter tissue volume (those parts of the brain that are primarily made up of nerve fibres) appeared to be unchanged upon investigation immediately after landing.

But, the subsequent examination six months later showed a widespread reduction in volume relative to both earlier measurements.

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In this case, the team postulated that over the course of a longer stint in space, the volume of the white matter may slowly be replaced by an influx of cerebrospinal fluid.

Upon return to Earth, this process is then gradually reversed, which then results in a relative reduction of white matter volume.

According to the researchers, further studies using a wider range of diagnostic methods are deemed essential, to minimise the risks associated with long-term missions and to characterise any clinical significance of the findings. (IANS)