Sunday, December 25, 2005

Researchers develop new method for studying 'mental time travel'

The researchers showed nine participants a series of pictures and then asked them to recall what they had seen. By applying a computerized pattern-recognition program to brain scanning data, the researchers were able to show that the participants' brain state gradually aligned with their brain state from when they first studied the pictures. This supports the theory that memory retrieval is a form of mental time travel.

This kind of technology could be used to study the neurological basis of false memories. Since the portion of the brain that records visual stimuli is distinct from the portion that produces confabulated or imagined experiences, researchers could use medical imaging to determine whether or not "abduction" accounts are based on actual memories of nonhuman encounters. (To his credit, Whitley Strieber has been advocating just such a research effort for several years.)

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