Our bodies know when to fall asleep and when to wake up. Our brains can keep track of short bursts of time like a mental stopwatch. But in our memories, our sense of time is fuzzy. Now, research is beginning to uncover how we put our memories in order.
These new insights into the workings of the brain, paired with other findings, could help in the understanding and early detection of diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, scientists say.
The idea that we perceive time in our memory subjectively is well known in psychology, says Lila Davachi, a professor of psychology at Columbia University. People may feel as if a day flies by when it’s busy, but later the memory stretches out because of the large number of recalled details.
Neuroscientists, however, have long had a limited understanding of how the brain marks this sense of time. Most research has pointed to the learning and memory hub of the brain, known as the hippocampus, and the surrounding brain regions. Now neuroscientists are homing in on the lateral entorhinal cortex, or LEC, which feeds into the memory hub, as a more specific time marker for memories.
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