Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Major Step Forward In Understanding How Memory Works

Date:
April 25, 2008
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
By blocking certain mechanisms that control the way that nerve cells in the brain communicate, scientists have been able to prevent visual recognition memory in rats. This demonstrates they have identified cellular and molecular mechanisms in the brain that may provide a key to understanding processes of recognition memory.

A single neuron (centre) in the perirhinal cortex which is involved in memory processes.
Credit: Photo by Andy Doherty

Our ability to remember the objects, places and people within our environment is essential for everyday life, although the importance of this is only fully appreciated when recognition memory beings to fail, as in Alzheimer's disease.

By blocking certain mechanisms that control the way that nerve cells in the brain communicate, scientists from the University of Bristol have been able to prevent visual recognition memory in rats.

This demonstrates they have identified cellular and molecular mechanisms in the brain that may provide a key to understanding processes of recognition memory.

Zafar Bashir, Professor of Cellular Neuroscience, who led the team at Bristol University said: "This is a major step forward in our understanding of recognition memory. We have been able to show that key processes controlling synaptic communication are also vital in learning and memory."

The ability to recognise elements in the surrounding environment such as faces or places, as well as the ability to learn about that environment, is crucial to our normal functioning in the world. But the actual mechanisms and changes that occur in the brain and allow learning to happen are still not very well understood.

One hypothesis is that changes at the specialised junctions (synapses) between nerve cells in the brain, hold the secrets to learning and memory. The change in the strength of communication between synapses is called synaptic plasticity and, it is believed, the mechanisms of synaptic plasticity may be important for learning and memory. Bashir and his colleagues tested this hypothesis.

Dr Sarah Griffiths, lead author on the paper, explained: "Nerve cells in the perirhinal cortex of the brain are known to be vital for visual recognition memory. Using a combination of biological techniques and behavioural testing, we examined whether the mechanisms involved in synaptic plasticity are also vital for visual recognition memory."

In their experiments, they were able to identify a key molecular mechanism that controls synaptic plasticity in the perirhinal cortex. They then demonstrated that blocking the same molecular mechanism that controls synaptic plasticity also prevented visual recognition memory in rats. This shows that such memory relies on specific molecular processes in the brain.

Professor Bashir added: "The next step is to try to understand the processes that enable visual memories to be held in our brains for such long periods of time, and why these mechanisms begin to break down in old age."

The research is published online April 23 in Neuron.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Major Step Forward In Understanding How Memory Works." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080423121427.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2008, April 25). Major Step Forward In Understanding How Memory Works. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080423121427.htm
University of Bristol. "Major Step Forward In Understanding How Memory Works." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080423121427.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
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