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Focal cortical thickness correlates of exceptional memory training in Vedic priests.

Kalamangalam GP, Ellmore TM - Front Hum Neurosci (2014)

Bottom Line: In this work, we study a group of Hindu Vedic priests, whose religious training requires the memorization of vast tracts of scriptural texts through an oral tradition, recalled spontaneously during a lifetime of subsequent spiritual practice.We demonstrate focal increases of cortical thickness in regions of the left prefrontal lobe and right temporal lobe in Vedic priests, in comparison to a group of matched controls.The findings are relevant to current hypotheses regarding cognitive processes underlying storage and recall of long-term declarative memory.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Neurology, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Houston, TX, USA.

ABSTRACT
The capacity for semantic memory-the ability to acquire and store knowledge of the world-is highly developed in the human brain. In particular, semantic memory assimilated through an auditory route may be a uniquely human capacity. One method of obtaining neurobiological insight into memory mechanisms is through the study of experts. In this work, we study a group of Hindu Vedic priests, whose religious training requires the memorization of vast tracts of scriptural texts through an oral tradition, recalled spontaneously during a lifetime of subsequent spiritual practice. We demonstrate focal increases of cortical thickness in regions of the left prefrontal lobe and right temporal lobe in Vedic priests, in comparison to a group of matched controls. The findings are relevant to current hypotheses regarding cognitive processes underlying storage and recall of long-term declarative memory.

No MeSH data available.


Significant thickness clusters displayed over the pial surface reconstruction of FREESURFER's average template brain. (A,B) Inferior and medial views of the left hemisphere, show a single cluster extending over the medial, ventral and polar orbito-frontal cortex. (C,D) Inferior and lateral views of the right hemisphere show a larger cluster occupying the middle inferior temporal neocortex, over the inferior temporal gyrus, the inferior temporal sulcus and part of the middle temporal gyrus. Key: STG, superior temporal gyrus; MTG, middle temporal gyrus; ITG, inferior temporal gyrus; FG, fusiform gyrus; PHG, parahippocampal gyrus; SFG, superior frontal gyrus; GR, gyrus rectus; MOG, medial orbital gyrus.
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Figure 1: Significant thickness clusters displayed over the pial surface reconstruction of FREESURFER's average template brain. (A,B) Inferior and medial views of the left hemisphere, show a single cluster extending over the medial, ventral and polar orbito-frontal cortex. (C,D) Inferior and lateral views of the right hemisphere show a larger cluster occupying the middle inferior temporal neocortex, over the inferior temporal gyrus, the inferior temporal sulcus and part of the middle temporal gyrus. Key: STG, superior temporal gyrus; MTG, middle temporal gyrus; ITG, inferior temporal gyrus; FG, fusiform gyrus; PHG, parahippocampal gyrus; SFG, superior frontal gyrus; GR, gyrus rectus; MOG, medial orbital gyrus.

Mentions: There were two statistically significant clusters of focal cortical thickening in the priest group compared to the control group (Figures 1A–D). The first was in the left orbitofrontal cortex including the anterior portion of the gyrus rectus and medial orbital gyrus (Brodmann areas 10/11/14, cluster size 460 mm2, MNI coordinates at peak vertex = [−9.5, 52.6, −21.8], p < 0.001 at peak vertex, cluster-wise p = 0.027 corrected for multiple comparisons). The second was over the right inferior temporal gyrus and middle temporal gyrus, straddling the inferior temporal sulcus (Brodmann areas 20/21, cluster size 601 mm2, MNI coordinates at peak vertex = [53.0, −17.5, −28.4], p < 0.001 at peak vertex, cluster-wise p = 0.008 corrected for multiple comparisons). The mean thicknesses of these two areas in individual subjects are listed in Table 1; significantly higher values in the priest group are suggested on even casual inspection.


Focal cortical thickness correlates of exceptional memory training in Vedic priests.

Kalamangalam GP, Ellmore TM - Front Hum Neurosci (2014)

Significant thickness clusters displayed over the pial surface reconstruction of FREESURFER's average template brain. (A,B) Inferior and medial views of the left hemisphere, show a single cluster extending over the medial, ventral and polar orbito-frontal cortex. (C,D) Inferior and lateral views of the right hemisphere show a larger cluster occupying the middle inferior temporal neocortex, over the inferior temporal gyrus, the inferior temporal sulcus and part of the middle temporal gyrus. Key: STG, superior temporal gyrus; MTG, middle temporal gyrus; ITG, inferior temporal gyrus; FG, fusiform gyrus; PHG, parahippocampal gyrus; SFG, superior frontal gyrus; GR, gyrus rectus; MOG, medial orbital gyrus.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4202711&req=5

Figure 1: Significant thickness clusters displayed over the pial surface reconstruction of FREESURFER's average template brain. (A,B) Inferior and medial views of the left hemisphere, show a single cluster extending over the medial, ventral and polar orbito-frontal cortex. (C,D) Inferior and lateral views of the right hemisphere show a larger cluster occupying the middle inferior temporal neocortex, over the inferior temporal gyrus, the inferior temporal sulcus and part of the middle temporal gyrus. Key: STG, superior temporal gyrus; MTG, middle temporal gyrus; ITG, inferior temporal gyrus; FG, fusiform gyrus; PHG, parahippocampal gyrus; SFG, superior frontal gyrus; GR, gyrus rectus; MOG, medial orbital gyrus.
Mentions: There were two statistically significant clusters of focal cortical thickening in the priest group compared to the control group (Figures 1A–D). The first was in the left orbitofrontal cortex including the anterior portion of the gyrus rectus and medial orbital gyrus (Brodmann areas 10/11/14, cluster size 460 mm2, MNI coordinates at peak vertex = [−9.5, 52.6, −21.8], p < 0.001 at peak vertex, cluster-wise p = 0.027 corrected for multiple comparisons). The second was over the right inferior temporal gyrus and middle temporal gyrus, straddling the inferior temporal sulcus (Brodmann areas 20/21, cluster size 601 mm2, MNI coordinates at peak vertex = [53.0, −17.5, −28.4], p < 0.001 at peak vertex, cluster-wise p = 0.008 corrected for multiple comparisons). The mean thicknesses of these two areas in individual subjects are listed in Table 1; significantly higher values in the priest group are suggested on even casual inspection.

Bottom Line: In this work, we study a group of Hindu Vedic priests, whose religious training requires the memorization of vast tracts of scriptural texts through an oral tradition, recalled spontaneously during a lifetime of subsequent spiritual practice.We demonstrate focal increases of cortical thickness in regions of the left prefrontal lobe and right temporal lobe in Vedic priests, in comparison to a group of matched controls.The findings are relevant to current hypotheses regarding cognitive processes underlying storage and recall of long-term declarative memory.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Neurology, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Houston, TX, USA.

ABSTRACT
The capacity for semantic memory-the ability to acquire and store knowledge of the world-is highly developed in the human brain. In particular, semantic memory assimilated through an auditory route may be a uniquely human capacity. One method of obtaining neurobiological insight into memory mechanisms is through the study of experts. In this work, we study a group of Hindu Vedic priests, whose religious training requires the memorization of vast tracts of scriptural texts through an oral tradition, recalled spontaneously during a lifetime of subsequent spiritual practice. We demonstrate focal increases of cortical thickness in regions of the left prefrontal lobe and right temporal lobe in Vedic priests, in comparison to a group of matched controls. The findings are relevant to current hypotheses regarding cognitive processes underlying storage and recall of long-term declarative memory.

No MeSH data available.