Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When memory-related region of brain is damaged, other areas compensate, study finds

Date:
August 3, 2010
Source:
University of California - Los Angeles
Summary:
Many neuroscientists believe the loss of the brain region known as the amygdala would result in the brain's inability to form new memories with emotional content. New research indicates this is not so, and suggests that when one brain region is damaged, other brain regions can compensate.

Many neuroscientists believe the loss of the brain region known as the amygdala would result in the brain's inability to form new memories with emotional content. New UCLA research indicates this is not so and suggests that when one brain region is damaged, other regions can compensate.

The research appears this week in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"Our findings show that when the amygdala is not available, another brain region called the bed nuclei can compensate for the loss of the amygdala," said the study's senior author, Michael Fanselow, a UCLA professor of psychology and a member of the UCLA Brain Research Institute.

"The bed nuclei are much slower at learning, and form memories only when the amygdala is not learning," he said. "However, when you do not have an amygdala, if you have an emotional experience, it is like neural plasticity (the memory-forming ability of brain cells) and the bed nuclei spring into action. Normally, it is as if the amygdala says, 'I'm doing my job, so you shouldn't learn.' With the amygdala gone, the bed nuclei do not receive that signal and are freed to learn."

The amygdala is believed to be critical for learning about and storing the emotional aspects of experience, Fanselow said, and it also serves as an alarm to activate a cascade of biological systems to protect the body in times of danger. The bed nuclei are a set of forebrain gray matter surrounding the stria terminalis; neurons here receive information from the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus and communicate with several lower brain regions that control stress responses and defensive behaviors.

"Our results suggest some optimism that when a particular brain region that is thought to be essential for a function is lost, other brain regions suddenly are freed to take on the task," Fanselow said. "If we can find ways of promoting this compensation, then we may be in a better position to help patients who have lost memory function due to brain damage, such as those who have had a stroke or have Alzheimer's disease.

"Perhaps this research can eventually lead to new drugs and teaching regimens that facilitate plasticity in the regions that have the potential to compensate for the damaged areas," he said.

While the current study shows this relationship for emotional learning, additional research in Fanselow's laboratory is beginning to suggest this is a general property of memory.

Fanselow's PNAS study was federally funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Co-authors include lead author Andrew Poulos, a research scientist in Fanselow's laboratory; Ravikumar Ponnusamy, also a research scientist in Fanselow's laboratory; and Hong-Wei Dong, UCLA assistant adjunct professor of neurology and a member of UCLA's Laboratory of Neuro Imaging.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles. The original article was written by Stuart Wolpert. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Andrew M. Poulos, Ravikumar Ponnusamy, Hong-Wei Dong, and Michael S. Fanselow. Compensation in the neural circuitry of fear conditioning awakens learning circuits in the bed nuclei of the stria terminalis. PNAS, August 2, 2010 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1005754107

Cite This Page:

University of California - Los Angeles. "When memory-related region of brain is damaged, other areas compensate, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100802165445.htm>.
University of California - Los Angeles. (2010, August 3). When memory-related region of brain is damaged, other areas compensate, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100802165445.htm
University of California - Los Angeles. "When memory-related region of brain is damaged, other areas compensate, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100802165445.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. 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