The brain works like a search engine


Select words and memories based on their relevance

Our brains use Internet search engine strategies to recall words and memories of past experiences. The order results based on the most significant expressions and experiences, just as search engines are guided by the most visited sites.

When we speak and write, an enormous number of words come to mind, but we choose only a few to express what we want to communicate. A study by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) suggests that the brain uses a methodology similar to that used by Internet search engines to detect the precise words for each situation.

The North American researchers believe that the selection of the words is not fancy, but is based on an exhaustive search that the brain carries out from terms stored in the neural networks in charge of memory. That would serve to understand the reasons why we use some words more and not others.

The team of specialists led by Dr. Weizhen Xie has concluded that some words are more remembered than others because the brain selects them using strategies similar to those of a sophisticated Internet search engine. He chooses them from memories and experiences connected to specific neural networks, thus quickly creating phrases and sentences ideal for a given context.

While previously it was thought that some words were used to a greater extent because they were linked to cultural or learning situations, the findings of this study seem to indicate that there is a specific brain cause to explain this phenomenon. It seems crucial then to understand the functioning of the neural networks involved in memory and speech.

The role of memories and experiences

Scientists performed a memory test on a group of patients with epilepsy, discovering that some words were remembered more easily than others, without caring too much about the relationships between them. Specifically, they found that within a total of three hundred words, only five of them stood out from the rest when they were remembered.

To further explore this, they carried out a similar test with healthy volunteers, which yielded similar results regarding how some words are selected repeatedly. They also employed brainwave recordings and word analysis that appear in a huge number of print and online publications.

Specialists believe that lived experiences and memories are fundamental in the ordering carried out by the brain when structuring discourse, thus becoming a kind of guide to connecting the neural networks that intervene in the process.

Areas of higher traffic

In short, the research would be indicating that the most remembered words come from areas of the highest traffic in the brain areas destined for memory, but that the conformation of these neural centers could vary between people based on memories or experiences significant in each case. Similarly, semantic or proximity relationships by meaning would also be governed by the same patterns.

In conclusion, the brain would use a strategy similar to that of Internet search engines, which order their results according to the most visited sites. In this way, the words we use the most would come directly from certain neural nuclei that would concentrate the traffic of our memory.

Taking into account the importance of memories and experiences in shaping our identity, the researchers believe that by learning more about this complex brain mechanism, it will be possible to advance in new treatments linked to memory-related mental disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.



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