Brown neuroscientist studies links between sleep and memory

Mayank Mehta, assistant professor of neuroscience, led the research team that made the discovery. The team\’s work was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"We\’ve known for a century that the hippocampus and the neocortex are anatomically connected. But this is the first time we\’ve seen the effect of this connectivity in the brains of live animals," Mehta said in a March 5 University news release. "The dialogue is quite unexpected and complex, suggesting that this \’simple\’ brain circuit is much more sophisticated than we imagined."

The researchers discovered that the slow and regular firing of excitatory cells in the neocortex was echoed in three parts of the hippocampus, suggesting that the neocortex initiates and controls the communication instead of the hippocampus, according to the release.

Mehta suggested, in a commentary published in the Nature Neuroscience journal in January, that memories are not stored during sleep but instead that sleep acts as a way to erase memories and create "a fresh page" for new memories, according to the release.

Mehta\’s work was supported by the Rhode Island Foundation, the Salomon Foundation, NARSAD: the Mental Health Research Association, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

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