July sixteen, 2021 — That flash of familiarity we sense when we see someone we know has long fascinated and stumped experts, who have been unable to pinpoint what is occurring in the brain. But for the to start with time, researchers are now reporting a new course of cells they say is dependable.

The discovery goes against the prevailing comprehension in neuroscience that various areas of the brain should connect with just about every other to procedure data. In its place, this study shows that just one area of the brain seems to be functioning for the sole reason of determining people we know.

It was assumed that a one brain cell — called the grandmother neuron, since of its skill to identify common faces, like a person’s grandmother’s — would be identified, but that has but to transpire.

The dilemma is so entrenched in neuroscience that senior author Winrich Freiwald, PhD, a professor of neurosciences and behavior at the Rockefeller College in New York City, states that when just one scientist desires to ridicule another’s argument, they dismiss it as “just a further grandmother neuron,” or unproven theory.

Now, in an obscure and understudied spot of the brain, Freiwald states they have located the closest detail to a grandmother neuron in cells capable of linking deal with notion to memory.

The Grandmother of Cells

For their study, Freiwald and his colleagues recorded electrical alerts from neurons in the brains of two rhesus monkeys as they were being shown photos of faces some of the people they understood, and some of the people they did not.

The staff confirmed that neurons in the lower front of the brain, the temporal pole, perform a position in the identification of common faces and the skill to inform the distinction among known and new faces.

In actuality, neuronal responses were being three situations much better for faces of people the monkeys were being individually common with than for faces of all those they did not know, even if they experienced viewed all those faces various situations on screens.

This could stage to the worth of recognizing someone in individual, the researchers explain. Offered the inclination presently to interact nearly, we should be conscious that faces we have viewed on a screen may possibly not evoke the similar neuronal activity as faces we meet in individual.

With this data, experts can start off to investigate how these brain cells encode common faces. The researchers say they can now request how this area is linked to the other areas of the brain and what occurs when a new deal with seems.

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Science: “A rapidly url among deal with notion and memory in the temporal pole.”

Winrich Freiwald, PhD, professor of neurosciences and behavior, the Rockefeller College, New York City.

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