Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A trace of memory, explored

Date:
October 23, 2013
Source:
Research Institute of Molecular Pathology
Summary:
Most of our behavior – and thus our personality – is shaped by previous experience. To store the memory of these experiences and to be able to retrieve the information at will is therefore considered one of the most basic and important functions of the brain. The current model in neuroscience poses that memory is stored as long-lasting anatomical changes in synapses, the specialized structures by which nerve cells connect and signal to each other.

Cross section of the auditory cortex of a mouse brain. A single neuron is highlighted by green fluorescent protein. Dendritic spines that are visible along the processes correspond to excitatory synapses.
Credit: Copyright: IMP

Most of our behavior -- and thus our personality -- is shaped by previous experience. To store the memory of these experiences and to be able to retrieve the information at will is therefore considered one of the most basic and important functions of the brain. The current model in neuroscience poses that memory is stored as long-lasting anatomical changes in synapses, the specialized structures by which nerve cells connect and signal to each other.

At the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna, Simon Rumpel and Kaja Moczulska used mice to study the effects of learning and memorizing on the architecture of synapses. They employed an advanced microscopic technique called in vivo two-photon imaging that allows the analysis of structures as small as a thousandth of a millimetre in the living brain.

Using this technology, the neurobiologists tracked individual neurons over the course of several weeks and analysed them repeatedly. They focussed their attention on dendritic spines that decorate the neuronal processes and correspond to excitatory synapses. The analyses were combined with behavioral experiments in which the animals underwent classic auditory conditioning. The results showed that the learning experience triggered the formation of new synaptic connections in the auditory cortex. Several of these new structures persisted over time, suggesting a long-lasting trace of memory and confirming an important prediction of the current model.

Apart from the changes during memory formation, the IMP-scientists were interested in the act of remembering. Earlier studies had shown that memory recall is associated with molecular processes similar to the initial formation of memory. These similarities have been suggested to reflect remodelling of memory traces during recall.

To test this hypothesis, previously trained mice were exposed to the auditory cue a week after conditioning while tracking dendritic spines in the auditory cortex. The results showed that although some molecular processes indeed resembled those during memory formation, the anatomical structure of the synapses did not change. These findings suggest that memory retrieval does not lead to a modification of the memory trace per se. Instead, the molecular processes triggered by memory formation and recall could reflect the stabilization of previously altered or recently retrieved synaptic connections.

The primary goal of elucidating the processes during memory formation and recall is to increase our basic knowledge. Insights gained from these studies might however help us to understand diseases of the nervous system that affect memory. They may also, in the future, provide the basis for treatments that offer relief to traumatized patients.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Research Institute of Molecular Pathology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. E. Moczulska, J. Tinter-Thiede, M. Peter, L. Ushakova, T. Wernle, B. Bathellier, S. Rumpel. Dynamics of dendritic spines in the mouse auditory cortex during memory formation and memory recall. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1312508110

Cite This Page:

Research Institute of Molecular Pathology. "A trace of memory, explored." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023090538.htm>.
Research Institute of Molecular Pathology. (2013, October 23). A trace of memory, explored. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023090538.htm
Research Institute of Molecular Pathology. "A trace of memory, explored." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023090538.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, April 18, 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