Metamemory and Alzheimer’s: How humans (and rats) monitor their own thoughts

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Rats are used in ongoing research to investigate the cognitive map created by grid cells in the brain's entorhinal cortex. ARISTIDE ECONOMOPOULOS/THE STAR-LEDGER

Rats have shown that they have the ability to monitor the strength of their own memories, researchers from Providence College reported…in the journal Animal Cognition…Brain scientists call this sort of ability metacognition.

The finding suggests an ancient evolutionary path that eventually led to humans’ highly developed ability to monitor their own thoughts. It also suggests that rats could be valuable animal models for studying diseases like Alzheimer’s, which erode metacognition.

The study focused on a type of metacognition called metamemory.

“Say you’re going over to a friend’s house for a party and you ask yourself, do I know how to get there,” says Victoria Templer, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor in the psychology department at Providence College. Metamemory is what allows your brain to say, “Yes, I remember the way,” or “No, better check Google Maps.”

If other studies confirm that rats possess metamemory, it could help scientists create a better animal model of Alzheimer’s disease, Templer says. That’s because metamemory is one of the abilities that is often impaired in Alzheimer’s patients.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: From Rats To Humans, A Brain Knows When It Can’t Remember