Learning and Memory

New brainwave device shown to boost memory performance

October 23, 2018

Researchers have revealed a new brainwave device that supposedly boosts our ability to remember significantly more information.

A device that gives us a significantly enhanced memory has long been a trope of science fiction, and perhaps the dreams of many a student. Now, researchers at University of California, Davis, have revealed a somewhat similar device that enhances brainwaves crucial to our ability to recall information.

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Discovering Curiosity: Making Music, Studying Memory with Charan Ranganath

October 03, 2018

An audio clip from the Apollo 11 launch plays amid static. “Ignition sequence start,” a voice says. “Six, five, four, three…” As the countdown continues, the feedback swells in the background, as if an amplifier’s volume knob is slowly being turned up. “All engines running,” the voice says. “Liftoff.”

UC Davis neuroscientists advance learning and memory research to decode how our brains work

August 02, 2018

For astrophysicists, the final frontier is outer space, but ask a neuroscientist, and the greatest quest for scientific exploration lies within your brain. 

Vastly more advanced than any supercomputer, the complexity and versatility of the human brain is awe-inspiring. Of all its abilities, learning from new experiences might be the most powerful and astounding feature. But how does learning occur? And how do we remember what we learn? 

Why You Forget Names Immediately—And How to Remember Them

July 26, 2018

Of all the social gaffes, none is perhaps more common than meeting a new person, exchanging names and promptly forgetting theirs — forcing you to either swallow your pride and ask again, or languish in uncertainty forever.

Why do we keep making this mistake? There are a few potential explanations, says Charan Ranganath, the director of the Memory and Plasticity Program at the University of California, Davis.

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Learning Enhances Synapses Between “Memory Cells” in Mice

April 26, 2018

When making memories, certain neurons form larger, denser connections, according to a study published today (April 26) in Science.

Scientists have long attempted to understand where, and how, the brain stores memories. At the beginning of the 20th century, German scientist Richard Semon coined the term “engram” to describe the hypothetical physical representations of memories in the brain.

Memory reply prioritizes high-reward experiences

February 11, 2016

Why do we remember some events, places and things, but not others? Our brains prioritize rewarding memories over others, and reinforce them by replaying them when we are at rest, according to new research from the University of California, Davis, Center for Neuroscience, published Feb. 11 in the journal Neuron.

“Rewards help you remember things, because you want future rewards,” said Professor Charan Ranganath, a UC Davis neuroscientist and senior author on the paper. “The brain prioritizes memories that are going to be useful for future decisions.”

Imaging studies reveal affected brain regions in schizophrenia

October 09, 2015

In a study published online in JAMA Psychiatry, John Daniel Ragland, Ph.D. and Cameron Carter, M.D. combined previously established tests for cognitive function with fMRI to pinpoint how memory and brain function change in patients with schizophrenia.

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Manipulating memory with light

October 09, 2014

Just look into the light: not quite, but researchers at the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience and Department of Psychology have used light to erase specific memories in mice, and proved a basic theory of how different parts of the brain work together to retrieve episodic memories. The work was published Oct. 9 in the journal Neuron. 

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Curiosity prepares the brain for better learning

October 02, 2014

A new study from the University of California, Davis, suggests that when our curiosity is piqued, changes in the brain ready us to learn not only about the subject at hand, but incidental information, too.

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Protein is key to forming short-term memories

August 06, 2014

Short-term memory is essential for everyday life — whether remembering a phone number while dialing, carrying on a conversation, or forming the basis of long-term memories. Neuroscientists think that short-term memory is based on changes in both the properties of brain cells and the connections, called synapses, between them.

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What happened when? How the brain stores memories by time

March 13, 2014

Before I left the house this morning, I let the cat out and started the dishwasher. Or was that yesterday? Very often, our memories must distinguish not just what happened and where, but when an event occurred — and what came before and after. New research from the University of California, Davis, Center for Neuroscience shows that a part of the brain called the hippocampus stores memories by their "temporal context" — what happened before, and what came after.

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Negative feedback stabilizes memories

August 27, 2013

Memories may be maintained in the brain through a mechanism familiar to any engineer—negative and positive feedback loops, according to researchers Sukbin Lim and Mark Goldman at the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience.

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Guggenheim Fellowship for Memory Researcher

April 18, 2013

Charan Ranganath got into memory research to help people with brain damage due to Alzheimer's disease, trauma or other causes. That work has now earned Ranganath, a professor in the Department of Psychology and Center for Neuroscience at the University of California, Davis, a $40,000 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, one of 175 awarded to scientists, artists and scholars by the foundation this year.

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