neurons

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How does the human brain keep track of the order of events in a sequence?

New research suggests that 'time cells' – neurons in the hippocampus thought to represent temporal information – could be the glue that sticks our memories together in the right sequence so that we can properly recall the correct order in which things happened.

Evidence for these kinds of sequence-tracking time cells was previously found in rats, where specific neuron assemblies are thought to support the recollection of events and the planning of action sequences – but less is known about how episodic memory is encoded in the human brain.

To investigate, a team led by neuroscientist Leila Reddy from the Brain and Cognition Research Center (CerCo) in France monitored electrical activity in the brains of 15 epilepsy patients, using microelectrodes implanted in the hippocampus.

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An experimental device that turns thoughts into text has allowed a man who was left paralyzed by an accident to construct sentences swiftly on a computer screen.

The man was able to type with 95% accuracy just by imagining he was handwriting letters on a sheet of paper, a team reported Wednesday in the journal Nature.

"What we found, surprisingly, is that [he] can type at about 90 characters per minute," says Krishna Shenoy of Stanford University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The device would be most useful to someone who could neither move nor speak, says Dr. Jaimie Henderson, a neurosurgeon at Stanford and co-director, with Shenoy, of the Stanford Neural Prosthetics Translational Laboratory.

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