Truth versus the frontal parietal network

November 13, 2007

Those of us lucky enough to still have a parent around may see them more as they were than as they are. If so, we’re doubly lucky.

Those of us lucky enough to still have a parent around may see them more as they were than as they are. If so, we're doubly lucky.

Age, it seems, has a way of replacing real memories with false ones. It's the reason that old loved ones sometimes "remember" things that didn't happen, as they recall impressions in place of facts.

Those replacements can be good or bad. It really depends on the person and the impression made by events long passed. But either way, those memories are impossible to debate, as the person believes in them.

This can be frustrating for anyone trying to convince an aging parent of the truth--that what he or she remembers didn't really happen. But according to research conducted with fMRI, perhaps we need to let such conflicts go.

The findings from Duke University Medical Center announced last week showed that as we get older true memories vanish from the medial temporal lobe. They are replaced by memories consistent with long-held impressions filed away in the frontal parietal network.

It is this kind of information that makes one appreciate medical imaging all the more.

The American College of Radiology last week embarked on a mission to educate the general public about what radiologists do and why they are vital to patient care. Early next year, the ACR will launch a media campaign called the "Face of Radiology." Contributions that probably won't make the limelight this time out are ones that teach us about ourselves. And that's too bad.

Last week, we got an example of why--an appreciation for the importance of where memories are stored in the brain. It is the kind of knowledge that answers questions that have long gone unanswered.

Every week brings more knowledge about how we think and why we do what we do. This knowledge may not be vital to patient care, but it is vital to humankind. And it is another reason why radiology should be appreciated.