The brain works in fundamentally different ways when remembering what we have seen compared to seeing something for the first time, a team of scientists has found. While previous work had concluded there is significant overlap between these two processes, the new study, which appears in the journal Nature Communications, reveals they are systematically different.
“There are undoubtedly some similarities between the brain’s activity when people are seeing and remembering things, but there are also significant differences,” says Jonathan Winawer, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at New York University and the senior author of the paper. “These distinctions are crucial to better understanding memory behavior and related afflictions.”
“We think these differences have to do with the architecture of the visual system itself and that the vision and memory processes produce different patterns of activity within this architecture,” adds Serra Favila, the paper’s lead author and an NYU doctoral student at the time of the study.