In 2005, the neuroscientist argentine Rodrigo Quian Quiroga discovered that a neuron located in the hippocampus, the brain area responsible for memory and the formation of memories, is activated each time that they showed to patients with epilepsy pictures of people or familiar places.
Among the images used in the research was one of the american actress Jennifer Aniston (Friends). After showing that picture, Quian Quiroga noted that in all cases it was triggered intensely neuron in each patient.
“I always wondered what was the relationship between perception and memory, between what we see and what we remember. I was wondering how they were responding neurons in the hippocampus to certain visual stimuli and, to do this, I used photos of actors, athletes and characters known to the patients,” said the neuroscientist argentine in an interview for QuoPlus.
Quian Quiroga points out that this evidence showed that brain cells are able to be linked with specific concepts. Thus, it was concluded that this phenomenon is due to the fact that there are neurons superespecializadas that are linked with people or elements that are common to each person.
This does not mean that all people have a specific neuron for identifying Jennifer Aniston, but that there are neurons linked that focus exclusively on the relationship or affiliation with our mother or father, partner, pet and even favourite places.
“We cannot say that we all have in the brain a neuron called Jennifer Aniston. Surely, a physicist, has neurons dedicated to Einstein, and a musician, Beethoven. However, someone who watches a lot of television will surely have several neurons that are activated before photos or pictures of actors and actresses,” explained Quian Quiroga.
The neuroscientist says that this finding it may be key to address in the future to patients with chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’sas understanding of the processes to form and to encode new memories is a first step in the treatment of this disease.