Think about a birthday party you had, or attended, as a child. Can you recall opening a treasured gift, the names or faces of people at the party, or the things people said to you? How is it that we can recall such rich sensory details from our distant past, sometimes with relative ease?

We use behavioral and neuroimaging methods to learn more about how the nervous system encodes and retrieves personal memories. PDF

These functional magnetic resonance images show parts of the brain that are engaged while people look at images, listen to environmental sounds, and later remember the images and sounds. Areas active during remembering were usually also active during the initial experience.

When making a decision, we must encode and store relevant information over time, until the decision is reached. How does the brain evaluate sensory evidence and ‘know’ when to commit to a decision? PDF

In some brain areas (blue regions), activity increases at a rate that is correlated with the timing of object recognition (blue lines). This accumulating signal occurs prior to recognition.