Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain's Recuperative Powers May Be Greater Than Previously Thought

Date:
March 16, 2001
Source:
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey
Summary:
Contrary to long-held popular belief, our brains may not only produce new brain cells or neurons throughout life, but the newly generated neurons quickly become involved in the formation of new memories – a fact that may have positive implications for the recuperative powers of our own brains when damaged by stroke or other disease or trauma.

BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Contrary to long-held popular belief, our brains may not only produce new brain cells or neurons throughout life, but the newly generated neurons quickly become involved in the formation of new memories – a fact that may have positive implications for the recuperative powers of our own brains when damaged by stroke or other disease or trauma.

In a study published today in the March 15 issue of the journal Nature, Rutgers psychology professor Tracey J. Shors and Princeton psychology professor Elizabeth Gould found that newly generated neurons in the hippocampus area of animal brains help form new memories.

Despite what is generally believed, scientists in recent years have learned that the brains of vertebrate animals, a category ranging from amphibians to humans, continue to produce new neurons throughout life. What was not known was whether the newly generated cells are actively involved in memory formation.

To find out, Shors and Gould studied the thousands of neurons produced daily in the hippocampus area of rat brains, an area that controls a form of memory known as trace conditioning, in which the animal must learn to associate stimuli that are separated in time. The researchers discovered that when they reduced the production of new hippocampus cells via a drug inhibitor, the rats were no longer able to form certain types of new memories.

This occurred even though mature hippocampus neurons remained functionally intact. On the other hand, when the researchers stopped administering the drug inhibitor, thus restoring the hippocampus area's ability to generate new cells, the ability to acquire trace memories was also restored.

"It appears that the new neurons become involved in memory about a week to two weeks after they are generated and they are involved in memories normally handled by the hippocampus," says Shors.

The team also noted that the reduction of new hippocampal cells had no apparent effect on memory that depends on other parts of the brain.

Although the researchers studied only the hippocampus, their research implies that the brain's recuperative powers may be far greater than previously thought. "We've known for some time that the brain generates new cells throughout life," says Shors. "These results suggest that one of the functions of these new cells is related to the process of memory formation."

In an earlier study, the two researchers demonstrated the nostrum, "use it or lose it." In the earlier study of rat brains, they found that while most new brain cells die within weeks of their generation, putting them to work through hippocampal-related learning improved their survival rate.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. "Brain's Recuperative Powers May Be Greater Than Previously Thought." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 March 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/03/010315075600.htm>.
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. (2001, March 16). Brain's Recuperative Powers May Be Greater Than Previously Thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/03/010315075600.htm
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. "Brain's Recuperative Powers May Be Greater Than Previously Thought." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/03/010315075600.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins