Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New insight into how environmental enrichment enhances memory

Date:
March 24, 2011
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
A new study introduces a valuable model system for investigating the role of synapse turnover in learning and memory in adult animals and elucidates mechanisms that link loss of existing synapses and the establishment of new synapses with improved learning.

It is well established that environmental enrichment, providing animals with rich sensory, motor, and social stimulation, produces both dramatic increases in the number of synapses in the brain and enhanced learning. However, causal relationships between synapse formation and improved memory have not been definitively established.

Now, a new study published in the March 24 issue of the journal Neuron introduces a valuable model system for investigating the role of synapse turnover in learning and memory in adult animals and elucidates mechanisms that link loss of existing synapses and the establishment of new synapses with improved learning.

"It had seemed likely that the powerful behavioral consequences of environmental enrichment involve enhanced synaptogenesis, but testing this hypothesis has been prevented by the absence of tools to specifically interfere with synaptogenesis processes in the adult," explains senior study author, Dr. Pico Caroni from Friedrich Miescher Institut in Basel, Switzerland. "In our study, we introduced a mouse model with a specific deficit in the assembly of synapses under conditions of enhanced plasticity in the adult and exploited the model to investigate a role for enhanced synaptogenesis in learning and memory associated with environmental enrichment."

Specifically, Dr. Caroni and coauthor Dr. Ewa Bednarek studied synapse remodeling and learning upon enrichment in the presence and absence of a protein called β-Adducin which has been implicated in the regulation of plasticity and learning. Mice lacking β-Adducin failed to assemble new synapses upon enhanced plasticity and exhibited diminished memory after environmental enrichment. Both mice lacking β-Adducin and control mice exhibited anatomical changes that could support new synapses (growth of new spine structures) upon enrichment, but these failed to establish synapses in the absence of β-Adducin. This suggests that in the adult, separate signals regulate anatomical changes and the actual formation of synapses. Remarkably, both the disassembly of pre-existing synapses and the assembly of new synapses were necessary to enhance learning and memory upon environmental enrichment.

Taken together, the findings provide new insight into the mechanisms that underlie enhanced long-term memory after environmental enrichment. "We have shown that circuit remodeling and synaptogenesis processes in the adult have important roles in learning and memory, and that β-Adducin is critically important to establish new synapses under conditions of enhanced plasticity," concludes Dr. Caroni. "Future studies will aim at elucidating how experience enhances synapse turnover and synaptogenesis, how this potentiates memory processes, and how impairment of these processes may produce memory loss in disease."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Ewa Bednarek, Pico Caroni. β-Adducin Is Required for Stable Assembly of New Synapses and Improved Memory upon Environmental Enrichment. Neuron, Volume 69, Issue 6, 1132-1146, 24 March 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.02.034

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "New insight into how environmental enrichment enhances memory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110323135627.htm>.
Cell Press. (2011, March 24). New insight into how environmental enrichment enhances memory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110323135627.htm
Cell Press. "New insight into how environmental enrichment enhances memory." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110323135627.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. 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