A recent study by a team of Chinese researchers about how the brain encodes and stores sequences was published in the Science journal on Feb 11.
The study was a collaboration between the Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology of Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Shanghai Center for Brain Science and Brain-Inspired Technology and Peking University's school of life sciences.
The study involved training macaques to memorize spatial sequences. Macaques are most similar to humans in terms of brain structure and functions, and therefore are the best subjects for studying complex cognitive functions, according to the team.
In the study, the monkeys were trained to reproduce sequence of dots flashing on the screen in front of them, and the brain activities when monkeys were memorizing and reporting the sequences were recorded during the tests.
Researchers used the two-photon calcium imaging method, which involves 'painting' the neurons with a genetically encoded calcium indicator, so that neurons' action potentials became visible. The study found that each piece of sequence information had one stable subspace in the brain.
In addition, the later the information entered working memory, the less cognitive resources the brain applied to store it. This research explains why people often made mistakes about information they are told last.
According to the team, the findings will continue to facilitate the understanding and exploring of human cognitive abilities.
Guo Aike, a Chinese neuroscientist and biophysicist, said that the paper will "shed a light on brain-inspired artificial intelligence research".