This is one of the more interesting research studies that I've read about over the past couple of months. Please open up the link to the full article to read all about it:
From today's New York Times:
In Memory-Bank ‘Dialogue,’ the Brain Is Talking to Itself
By NICHOLAS WADE
The New York Times
December 18, 2006
New recordings of electrical activity in the brain may explain a major part of its function, including how it consolidates daily memories, why it needs to dream and how it constructs models of the world to guide behavior.
The recordings capture dialogue between the hippocampus, where initial memories of the day’s events are formed, and the neocortex, the sheet of neurons on the outer surface of the brain that mediates conscious thought and contains long-term memories.
Such a dialogue had been thought to exist, but no one had been able to eavesdrop on it successfully. The new insight has emerged from recordings of rat brains but is likely to occur in much the same way in the human brain, which has analogous structures and the same basic principles of operation.
The finding, reported on the Web site of the journal Nature Neuroscience by Daoyun Ji and Matthew A. Wilson, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, showed that during nondreaming sleep, the neurons of both the hippocampus and the neocortex replayed memories — in repeated simultaneous bursts of electrical activity — of a task the rat learned the previous day.
[ ... Read the full article ... ]
Here is the Nature Neuroscience abstract: link