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Mechanism Behind 'Fast-Forward' Nature Of Imagination And Memory Decoded

Update Date: Jan 15, 2016 09:40 AM EST

Why does your brain remember what happened yesterday in a second, though it took you so long to live through it?

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have detected the brain's ability and are able to grasp the reason for schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, autism and other disorders, due to distortions between real and unreal experiences.

The information required for fishing out memories or imagination and transforming it into a brain wave frequency different from another used for encoding real-time experiences have been located. The study has identified the one brain wave that lets us recall memories and imagine future events in a "sped-up timeframe", according to HNGN.

"The reason we're excited about it is that we think this mechanism can help explain how you can imagine a sequence of events you're about to do in a time-compressed manner," Laura Colgin, who participated in the research, said in a press release. "You can plan out those events and think about the sequences of actions you'll do. And all of that happens on a faster time scale when you're imagining it than when you actually go and do those things."

Slow, not fast gamma rhythms are used to recall the past and visualise the future. Fast gamma rhythms only encode memories of events that happen in real time.

This is because slow gamma rhythms show a higher storage capacity due to long wavelengths. This is the explanation for the "fast-forward" effect. The brain can process an enhanced number of data points on every wave.

It also indicates why schizophrenics and those who have disrupted gamma rhythms are not able to distinguish real and imaginary events.

"Maybe they are transmitting their own imagined thoughts on the wrong frequency, the one usually reserved for things that are really happening," Colgin said. "That could have terrible consequences."

The study was published in Jan. 7,2016 issue of Neuron.

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