The learning ability of the mouse helps to specify the brain lobes that store semantic knowledge and memories


Some pictorial creations made by Rembrandt and Vermeer are identical. Most of the time, people make mistakes when crediting a work of art to the other painter. However, identifying the different compositions and details allows experts to see the difference between the masterpieces made by the two great artists.

The Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology recently discovered how the ability needed for this specific challenge could be applied. With the help of mouse subjects, the researchers learned how the brain differentiates images into categories. Research has determined that these categories are found in the lobes where visualization is processed. The results helped the expert understand how knowledge and semantic memories are stored in a functioning brain.

How does semantic memory work?

(Photo: MPI of Neurobiology / Kuhl)

Art professionals refine their know-how by getting into the habit of differentiating between several works of art made available by different painters. Through this process, they can develop a sense of distinction in one work of art over another. Like many other repetitive functions, this process is acquired through knowledge gathered using semantic memory.

Semantic memory is a type of long-term recall provided not by a specific experience, but by exposure to abstract information. However, details regarding this type of memory and its storage in the human brain have limited studies and supporting evidence. Max Planck neurobiologist and study author Pieter Golstein said in a Florida News Time report that understanding how semantic memories are stored requires them to first specify the correct area of ​​the brain where they are stored. . The study was made possible with the help of mice whose subjects were taught to acquire the complex skills and knowledge of art experts.

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Where is semantic memory stored?

The study involved experiences that included tasks similar to the complex ability of art professionals. In the experiment, the mouse subjects were exposed to different images containing striped patterns. However, these patterns have different appearances on each of the images. The aim of the experiment was for the subjects to learn how these striped images vary from each other. Throughout the examination, the mice had no difficulty sorting the band images according to their categories. The subjects’ rapid learning ability enabled them to store category characteristics in their brains. However, when the stripe images were moved to another location, the mouse was confused. This has led scientists to identify that category learning is indeed strongly related to the visual cortex.

The exam also included tracking the activities of neurons as subjects learned throughout the experiment. According to the study, the learning process allowed more regions of the visual cortex to develop category skills. Neurobiology expert and lead author of the study Mark Hübener said neurons in the visual cortex could receive two distinct signals: visual stimulus and category information based on what they saw. on the banded images. The study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, titled “Areas of the mouse visual cortex represent perceptual and semantic characteristics of learned visual categories.”

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