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Neural cliques, network-level memory coding units in the hippocampus, are functionally organized in a categorical and hierarchical manner. Researchers investigating the role of neural cliques have gained insight into the process of storing memories in the brain. Memory of events is achieved not through memorization of exact event details, research evidence suggests, but through recreation of select images based on cognitive significance. This process enables the brain to exhibit large storage capacity, but also facilitates the capacity for abstract reasoning and generalization. Research has demonstrated that real-time patterns of memory traces, retained in neural cliques, can be mathematically described, directly visualized, and dynamically deciphered.
Neuroscientists widely agree that neural populations convey information more effectively than individual neurons. Researchers have been able to map out distinct patterns of neural activity in the hippocampus triggered by different events. The activity patterns associated with certain startling experiences recurred spontaneously --at intervals ranging from seconds to minutes after the actual event-- that showed similar trajectories, including the characteristic geometric shape, but with smaller amplitudes than their original responses.
"Organizing principles of real-time memory encoding: neural clique assemblies and universal neural codes", Longnian Lin, Remus Osan and Joe Z. Tsien, Trends in Neurosciences, vol 29, no 1, January 2006, p 48-57
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