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Surprise! Neural mechanism may underlie an enhanced memory for the unexpected

Tags: neuroscience, university of arizona

[Source: ScienceDaily] - The human brain excels at using past experiences to make predictions about the future. However, the world around us is constantly changing, and new events often violate our logical expectations.

"We know these unexpected events are more likely to be remembered than predictable events, but the underlying neural mechanisms for these effects remain unclear," says lead researcher, Dr. Nikolai Axmacher, from the University of Bonn in Germany.

Dr. Axmacher and colleagues, whose new study is published by Cell Press in the February 25 issue of the journal Neuron, investigated the relationship between novelty processing and memory formation in two key brain structures, the hippocampus, and the nucleus accumbens. The hippocampus plays a key role in memory formation while the nucleus accumbens is involved in processing rewards and novel information. Previous work had suggested that information transfer between these structures may be associated with enhanced memory for unexpected items or events.

For more information: Surprise! Neural Mechanism May Underlie an Enhanced Memory for the Unexpected