Recognizing someone’s name but not placing them is all in your brain

November 14th, 2007 - 2:52 am ICT by admin  
According to the researchers, the sometimes eerie feeling experience when recognizing someone, yet failing to remember how or why relies on a distinct brain mechanism and does not simply reflect a weak form of memory.

“Recognition based on familiarity can be contrasted with recognition when we spontaneously conjure up details about the episode in which we encountered the person before, such as where we met the person or when it happened,” said psychology professor Stefan Kohler.

The research is based on Western psychology graduate student Ben Bowles’ Master’s thesis.

The study is important as it has implications for understanding memory deficits in neurology, including in Alzheimer’s disease.

Bowels and Kohler also report that a rare form of brain surgery that can be highly effective for treatment of epilepsy can selectively impair the ability to assess familiarity.

“It is counterintuitive but makes a lot of sense from a theoretical perspective that familiarity can be affected, while the ability to recollect episodic detail is completely spared,” adds Kohler.

The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers at the London Health Sciences Centre, McGill University, and at the University of California.

Supported by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to Dr. Kohler, the research was recently published in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.” (ANI)

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