Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Finding On How Memory Is Formed And Stored

Date:
April 25, 2008
Source:
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Summary:
The location of protein-destroying "machines" in nerve cells in the brain may play an important role in how memories are formed -- a finding with potential implications for treating Alzheimer's and other brain diseases.

Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine are the first to show that the location of protein-destroying "machines" in nerve cells in the brain may play an important role in how memories are formed -- a finding with potential implications for treating Alzheimer's and other brain diseases.

"We hope to exploit this finding to manipulate memory and find ways to make it better," said Ashok Hegde, Ph.D., associate professor of neurolobiology and anatomy. "Our goal is to develop a new strategy for treating memory loss."

In mice, the researchers studied nerve cells in the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with memory coding and storing of memory. Scientists know that the synapses, or connections between nerve cells, play an important role in memory. Each nerve cell in the brain connects with at least a thousand other nerve cells.

"When humans or animals learn and store what is learned in their memory, these connections between cells become stronger or weaker," said Hegde. "For example, if we learn to do something better, such as playing softball, the synapses that control our hand-eye coordination will become stronger. If we learn to ignore something, such as the barking of a neighbor's dog, then the synapses that control paying attention will become weaker."

In mice, scientists are able to determine the strength of these connections, and they studied how protein degradation affects connection strength. It is known that the degradation of proteins, which are made by cells to control cell functions, plays an important role in memory function.

Levels of proteins are controlled by cylinder-shaped protein-destroying machines known as proteasomes that are located throughout all cell types. The Wake Forest researchers are the first to show that the proteasomes in different parts of nerve cells plays different roles in controlling synapse strength -- and presumably in memory. They made this discovery by studying connection strength with and without a chemical that blocks activity of the proteasomes.

They found that proteasomes located in the dendrites, the branched projections of a neuron that act to conduct the electrical stimulation, limit the strength of the connections between cells. Proteasomes in the nucleus, the part of the cell that contains genetic material, help maintain synapse strength for long periods of time.

Their next goal is to learn to block proteasome activity specifically in the dendrites to increase the strength of synapses -- and of memory. They are currently conducting studies in mice to block proteasome activity in the dendrites, using mazes to test memory.

"If we see a memory enhancement when we block the proteasome in dendrites, we can use this strategy to treat memory loss," said Hegde.

He said the research is important because it has implications for treating human diseases that affect memory.

"Protein degradation is abnormal in many brain diseases, including Alzheimer's," said Hegde. "Having a thorough knowledge of how protein degradation works to changes synapses is a first step to finding a cure for memory loss."

The research is published in a recent issue of Learning & Memory. Co-researchers were Chenghai Dong, M.D., Ph.D., Sudarshan Upadhya, Ph.D., Lan Ding, Ph.D., and Thuy Smith, M.S., all with Wake Forest. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "New Finding On How Memory Is Formed And Stored." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080423171537.htm>.
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. (2008, April 25). New Finding On How Memory Is Formed And Stored. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080423171537.htm
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "New Finding On How Memory Is Formed And Stored." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080423171537.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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