Your Brain Has a Neuron Just for Tom Cruise

...and another for every celeb you recognize, study finds
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2009 11:47 AM CDT
You have a neuron devoted to both Jon and Kate. Sorry.   (AP Photo/TLC, Karen Alquist, File)
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(Newser) – You have a neuron in your brain devoted entirely to recognizing Tom Cruise. Another specializes in Barack Obama, yet another LeBron James, and, yes, Jon and Kate are taking up two. By studying a decade worth of brain activity, researchers have discovered a series of cells that act like celebrity groupies, the Wall Street Journal reports. Each pulls together all the sensory data on a personality to create a mental image.

The findings suggest that it takes only the simplest circuit of neurons to hold even complex ideas. The celebrity neurons aren’t memorizing specific images of celebrities; they use their distilled experience with a celebrity, allowing them to recognize him or her in any context. “The neuron is responding to a concept, not a picture,” one researcher explained.