Past, future may be linked in brain

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
It has long been known that damage to the hippocampus, an area of the brain that's crucial to memory and learning, can cause amnesia. This kind of damage may also cause other problems.

In this study, patients who'd suffered damage to the hippocampus were asked to imagine and describe in detail situations in commonplace settings, such as a pub, as well as plausible future events such as a Christmas party or a meeting with a friend.

"We found that the role played by the hippocampus in processing memory was far broader than merely reliving past experiences," research leader Dr Eleanor Maguire, of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, said in a prepared statement.

"(The hippocampus) also seems to support the ability to imagine any kind of experience, including possible future events. In that sense, people with damage to the hippocampus are forced to live in the present," she said.

"Furthermore, the patients reported that they were unable to visualise the whole experience in their mind's eye, seeing instead just a collection of separate images," Maguire said. The findings suggest that a common mechanism in the brain may support both the recall of memories and the visualisation of imaginary and future experiences.

The study was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Read more:
Clues to origin of dementia
Scientists probe the idle mind

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 833 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
83% - 9591 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
10% - 1119 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
18.01
-0.0%
Rand - Pound
20.17
-0.4%
Rand - Euro
17.65
-0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.56
-0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.2%
Gold
1,713.73
+0.1%
Silver
20.79
+0.6%
Palladium
2,264.50
+0.1%
Platinum
934.00
+0.9%
Brent Crude
94.42
+1.1%
Top 40
59,262
-0.3%
All Share
65,626
-0.3%
Resource 10
63,634
+0.6%
Industrial 25
79,470
-0.7%
Financial 15
13,963
-0.2%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE