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Study: Dreaming Helps Brain Forget Excess Memories

We are bombarded by a lot of information every day. Much of this information that we receive turns into memories in our brains. Unfortunately, as with the words of Ronald Davis, a neurobiologist at the Scripps Research Institute, “we simply cannot deal with all of it.” And so, it is necessary that we forget some things.

In a study of mice, researchers led by Akihiro Yamanaka of Japan’s Nagoya University have pinpointed neurons which help the brain forget excess memories.

[As they] report in the journal Science, special cells called melanin-concentrating hormone, or M.C.H., neurons, release electrical signals during R.E.M. sleep—a sleep phase marked by rapid eye movement, heightened heart rate and intense dreams. This process, in turn, enables the brain to filter out unneeded information and create room for new memories.
According to Sheikh, Yamanaka and his colleagues realized M.C.H. neurons’ significance while studying sleep patterns in mice. Spurred by the realization that these cells interfere with the hippocampus, a brain region needed to consolidate memories, the team decided to conduct a series of tests.

Know more about this study over at Smithsonian.com.

(Image Credit: Robert-Owen-Wahl/ Pixabay)


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