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How we remember what we read

Human experiments reveal patterns of brain activity associated with successful memory of just-read text

Society for Neuroscience

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IMAGE: By comparing participants' brain activity to how well they remembered the essays they read, the researchers found successful memory of the text was associated with deactivation of two sets of... view more 

Credit: Naoyuki Sato

The results of two human experiments published in eNeuro reveal patterns of brain activity associated with successful memory of a just-read text. The research provides new insight into the memory processes involved in natural reading.

In one experiment, Naoyuki Sato and colleagues measured the electrical activity generated participants' brains and tracked their eye movements as they read 4,000- to 8,000-word essays. In a separate experiment, the researchers measured blood flow changes in the brain as different group of participants read the same essays. Participants' memory of the text was assessed by having them write a summary of what they read.

By comparing participants' brain activity to how well they remembered the essays they read, the researchers found successful memory of the text was associated with deactivation of two sets of brain regions: the salience network at the sentence level and the default mode network at the paragraph level. These deactivations may indicate a mechanism by which the brain filters out irrelevant information during reading in order to focus on committing the text to memory.

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Article: Successful encoding during natural reading is associated with fixation-related potentials and large-scale network deactivation

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0122-18.2018

Corresponding author: Naoyuki Sato (Future University Hakodate, Japan), satonao@fun.ac.jp

About eNeuro

eNeuro, the Society for Neuroscience's open-access journal launched in 2014, publishes rigorous neuroscience research with double-blind peer review that masks the identity of both the authors and reviewers, minimizing the potential for implicit biases. eNeuro is distinguished by a broader scope and balanced perspective achieved by publishing negative results, failure to replicate or replication studies. New research, computational neuroscience, theories and methods are also published.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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