Memories of Favourite Places # Improve Vocabulary

MEMORIES OF FAVOURITE PLACES

It could be that romantic restaurant, or your favourite park bench. A specific part of the brain seems to be responsible for learning and remembering the precise locations of places that are special to us, research in mice has shown for the first time.

Place cells are neurons that help us map our surroundings, and both mice and humans have such cells in the hippocampus – a brain region vital for learning, memory and navigation.

Nathan Danielson at Columbia University in New York and his colleagues focused on a part of the hippocampus that feeds signals to the rest of the brain, called CA1. They found that in mice, the CA1 layer where general environment maps are learned and stored is different to the one for locations that have an important meaning.

Treadmill test

They discovered this by recording brain activity in the two distinct layers of CA1, using mice placed on a treadmill. The treadmill rotated between six distinctive surface materials – including silky ribbons, green pom-pom fabric and silver glitter masking tape. At all times, the mice were able to lick a sensor to try to trigger the release of drinking water.

During the first phase of the experiment, however, the sensor only worked at random times. The mice formed generalised maps of their experience on the multi-surfaced treadmill, and the team found that these were stored in the superficial layer of CA1.

Then the team activated the sensor only when the mice were on a specific surface, such as the one with silky strips. Mice learned to coordinate their licking with being on the “active” zone, and developed a map that was stored in the deeper layer of CA1.

The team’s conclusion, Danielson says, is that the superficial CA1 layer forms a stable baseline representation of the environment, while the deeper layer maps emotional significance.

“It’s like navigating to your favourite restaurant,” says Danielson. “You need to know the general area, and the wider environment, but the location of the restaurant is of special significance, and incorporates an emotional element,” he says.

#WORDMEANINGSYNONYM
1RomanticOf, or relating to, or of the nature of romance; fanciful; impractical; unrealisticAdventurous, amorous, charming, colorful, corny, dreamy, erotic, exciting, exotic, fanciful, fantastic, fascinating, glamorous, maudlin, mysterious, nostalgic, passionate, tender, utopian, whimsical
2RestaurantAn establishment where meals are served to customersBar, cafeteria, coffee shop, diner, dining room, inn, joint, outlet, saloon, canteen, chophouse, dive, drive-in, eatery, grill, hideaway, lunchroom, pizzeria
3FavoriteA person or thing regarded with special favor or preferenceBeloved, cherished, favored, main, popular, prized, treasured, choice, darling, dear, dearest, intimate, personal, pet, sweetheart
4ColleaguesAn associateAide, ally, assistant, buddy, co-worker, companion, comrade, friend, partner, teammate, auxiliary, chum, coadjutor, cohort, collaborator, compatriot, compeer, confederate, confrere, crony, helper, pal, workmate
5DiscoveredTo notice or realizeDetected, disclosed, exposed, identified, invented, ascertained, disinterred, espied, explored, learned, observed, opened, originated, perceived, presented, recognized, revealed, shown, sighted, spotted, unearthed, unlocked, unveiled
6DistinctDistinguished as not being same; not identical; separateDefinite, noticeable, recognizable, specific, unmistakable, audible, categorical, clean-cut, clear, clear-cut, enunciated, evident, explicit, express, incisive, lucid, manifest, marked, palatable, patent, perspicuous, plain, prescribed, sharp, transparent, trenchant, unambiguous
7TreadmillAn exercise machine that allows the user to walk or run in place, usually on a continuous moving beltChore, drudgery, groove, labor, pace, rote, routine, rut, sweat, task, toil, travail, grub work, hard work, moil
8DistinctiveServing to distinguish; characteristic; distinguishingCool, extraordinary, idiosyncratic, offbeat, original, peculiar, singular, special, weird, characteristic, diacritic, diagnostic, discrete, distinguishing, excellent, far cry, gnarly, individual, like night and day, outstanding, perfect, poles apart, proper, separate
9TriggerTo initiate or precipitate; to become activeBring about, cause, generate, produce, prompt, provoke, set off, spark, start, activate, elicit, give rise to, set in motion
10SuperficialBeing at, on, or near the surface; apparent rather than real.Cursory, frivolous, one-dimensional, perfunctory, silly, sketchy, slight, trivial, apparent, casual, cosmetic, depthless, desultory, empty, evident, exterior, external, flash, flimsy, general, glib, half-baked, hasty, hurried, ignorant, inattentive, warped, tip of the iceberg, ostensible,
11ConclusionThe end or close; final partClosure, completion, consequence, denouement, development, ending, outcome, result, cease, cessation, close, culmination, eventuality, finale, finish, issue, payoff, period, stop, termination, upshot, windup, wrap
12NavigatingTo walk or find one’s way on, in, or acrossCross, cruise, handle, maneuver, operate, sail, steer, captain, direct, drive, helm, journey, pilot, plan, plot, skipper, voyage, head out for, lay the course, ride out
13IncorporatesTo put or introduce into a body or mass as an integral part or partsAbsorb, assimilate, blend, consolidate, cover, embody, fuse, integrate, merge, mix, organize, amalgamate, associate, charter, coalesce, dub, form, imbibe, join, link, pool, start ,subsume, unite, add to, gang up, hook in, put together, tie in
14EmotionalPertaining to or involving emotion; subject to or easily affected by emotionsAffecting, exciting, heated, hysterical, impassioned, moving, nervous, passionate, poignant, sensitive, sentimental, spontaneous, touching, ardent, disturbed, ecstatic, emotive, enthusiastic, excitable, falling apart, fanatical, feeling, fervent fervid, fickle, fiery, heartwarming, histrionic, hot-blooded, impetuous, impulsive, irrational, overwrought, pathetic, responsive, roused, sentient, stirred

 

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