It may look like a joke, but it is not: there is actually a neuron called Jennifer Aniston, that was discovered in the year 2005 by the neuroscientist argentine Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, University of Leicester, United Kingdom.
This curious discovery came from the hands of a study focused on patients with epilepsy, which allowed us to determine that a neuron located in the hippocampus (the area of the brain responsible for memory and the formation of memories) is activated with specific links related to the legendary Rachel Green.
The author of the research used images of celebrities such as James Brolin, Clint Eastwood or Julia Roberts, in addition to postcards of famous sites like the Eiffel Tower or the White House for testing, but only in the case of American actress was something special: in all the patients who saw the snapshot of Aniston is activated intensely a nerve cell in the brain area.
“We observed that when we showed these patients a picture of Jennifer Aniston, in their brains reacted to one and the same neuron. If the image changed, another neuron was activated. The conclusion is that these neurons have an abstract representation of the figure in question”, explained the neuroscientist.
In that sense, the author of the report states that the neuron is not only activated in the patient by showing the photo of the famous but also in response to a cartoon or when someone mentioned the name of the actress.
But… does that mean that we all have a neuron called Jennifer Aniston? The answer is no.
“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,” says Rodrigo Quian Quiroga.
In more simple words: what happens is that we all have “neuron-specific” for each person or a particular concept that we know in our brain.
Finally, the neuroscientist argues that the finding may be key to the therapies for patients with chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, due to which –despite the progress – the understanding of the processes to form and to encode new memories continues to be an enigma in the fight against the condition. @mundiario