Scientists from University College London have found that they can differentiate brain activity linked to different and specific memories using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, which records brain activity by measuring changes in blood flow within the brain.
The researchers also confirmed that memories are stored in the hippocampus.
In the study, UCL professor Eleanor Maguire -- along with colleagues Martin Chadwick, Demis Hassabis and Nikolaus Weiskopf -- showed three seven-second films to 10 people. Each movie featured a different actress but similar quotidian scenario.
Then the researchers scanned the participants' brains while they recalled each of the films.
The researchers then crunched that imaging data with a computer algorithm built to identify patterns associated with memories in brain activity.
The team found that the participants' patterns could be identified so as to accurately predict which film a given person was thinking about while he or she was being scanned.
That's important because it shows that traces of episodic memories are identifiable and consistently use the rear-right, front-left and front-right areas of the hippocampus.
By knowing how memories are stored, scientists hope to see how they are affected by aging and injury.
Their results were published in the March 11 online edition of Current Biology.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com