Memories Create ‘Fingerprints’ That Reveal How the Brain is Organized

woman entering MRI

While the broad architecture and organization of the human brain is universal, researchers supported by the University of Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute (UR CTSI) are the first to observe and quantify the differences between how people reimagine common scenarios. These unique neurological signatures could ultimately be used to understand, study, and even improve the treatment of disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, published in Nature Communications, was led by UR CTSI Pilot awardee Andrew Anderson, Ph.D., and Feng (Vankee) Lin, Ph.D., R.N., whose past UR CTSI KL2 Career Development award investigated whether a computer program could slow cognitive impairment in older adults.

Anderson and Lin compared verbal descriptions and fMRI brain scans from 26 participants who were asked to recall common scenarios, such as driving, attending a wedding, or eating out at a restaurant. The scenarios were broad enough so that each participant would reimagine them differently.

The researchers were able to observe how network activation patterns differed on an individual level depending upon the details of each person’s recollections and imagination. 

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CTSA Program In Action Goals
Goal 1: Train and Cultivate the Translational Science Workforce
Goal 4: Innovate Processes to Increase the Quality and Efficiency of Translational Research, Particularly of Multisite Trials