A new study has given clues as to how our brains associate people and places.

Something so simple as where you parked your car, or even Jennifer Aniston, can be understood as brain activity involving neurons changing their behavior upon association between a person and a particular place.

In a new paper published in the journal Neuron, a team of researchers led by Itzhak Fried at the UCLA Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory implanted electrodes in the temporal lobes of 14 epilepsy patients to identify where their seizures originate.

They showed them images of Clint Eastwood and Jennifer Aniston, and identified which neurons were activated by those images. Then, they revealed photos of the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Once those specific neurons were identified, the team showed them fake images of Aniston at the Eiffel Tower and Eastwood at Pisa. They found that the patients created new associations between the person and the place, signified by a change of behavior in the specified neurons.

This evidence is helpful in understanding how memories are formed between associations, and how Alzheimer's patients might have trouble with this access function, as this area of the brain is the first to show signs of deterioration.

Cover image: Wikimedia Commons