Ever wonder how you’re able to remember life events that happened days, months, or even years ago? You have your hippocampus to thank. This essential area in the brain relies on intense and highly synchronized patterns of activity that aren’t found anywhere else in the brain. They’re called “sharp-wave ripples.”
These dynamic ripples have been likened to the brain version of an instant replay, appearing most commonly during rest after a notable experience. And, now, the top video winner in this year’s Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative’s annual Show Us Your BRAINs! Photo and Video Contest allows you to witness the “chatter” that those ripples set off in other neurons. The details of this chatter determine just how durable a particular memory is in ways neuroscientists are still working hard to understand.
Neuroscientist Saman Abbaspoor in the lab of Kari Hoffman at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, sets the stage in the winning video by showing an electrode or probe implanted in the brain that can reach the hippocampus. This device allows the Hoffman team to wirelessly record neural activity in different layers of the hippocampus as the animal either rests or moves freely about.