Wayne State Scientists Study How The Brain Creates Memories

Plus, more research from across the Mitten State
Illustration: IStock

In this month’s Science Mitten, we look at studies from researchers at Wayne State University, University of Michigan, and Michigan State University. Learn about their findings below.

Explaining memory

Wayne State University scientists say they’ve figured out how the brain creates enduring memories, a puzzle that has baffled neuroscientists for decades. Their work, published in the journal Current Biology, identified evidence that interactions between the medial temporal lobe and the prefrontal cortex are responsible for the formation of lasting memories. “Findings suggest that the development of memory is rooted in the development of the brain’s ability to multitask,” says Wayne State psychologist Noa Ofen, a lead author. “This tells us something fundamental about how memory becomes what it is.”

Staving off dementia

Addressing mental health disorders earlier in life could be an important way to avert neurodegenerative diseases later, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, Duke University, and the University of Auckland. The analysis focused on a three-decade observation of some 1.7 million New Zealanders and was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The lead author, U-M psychologist Leah Richmond-Rakerd, says it’s unclear what exactly connects mental disorders and dementia, but knowing there is a link may prompt doctors to encourage patients with such disorders to engage in healthy behaviors that reduce dementia risk, such as exercise.

Hooray for nanofoam padding

More flexible padding for football helmets, tested in labs at Michigan State University, can offer players greater protection against concussions and brain injuries, according to a study published in the journal Matter. The material, reusable liquid nanofoam, has been shown to be more resilient and effective than the standard foam pads currently in use, says MSU engineer Weiyi Lu, the lead author. “The nanofoam was able to mitigate continuous multiple impacts without damage; the results were identical from test one through test 10,” Lu says.

This story is from the April 2022 issue of Hour Detroit. Read more in our digital edition