Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Turning off major memory switch dulls memories

Date:
December 11, 2013
Source:
Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University
Summary:
A faultily formed memory sounds like hitting random notes on a keyboard while a proper one sounds more like a song, scientists say.

A faultily formed memory sounds like hitting random notes on a keyboard while a proper one sounds more like a song, scientists say.

Related Articles


When they turned off a major switch for learning and memory, brain cells communicated, but the relationship was superficial, said Dr. Joe Tsien, neuroscientist at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University and Co-Director of the GRU Brain & Behavior Discovery Institute.

"We have begun to crack the neural code, which allows us to look in real time at how thoughts happen and how memories are made," Tsien said. "That has enabled us to understand for the first time how and whether the right keys are struck at the right time and in the right place and manner to make the beautiful sound of coherent memories and to compare what happens when a key element is missing."

With the NMDA receptor intact, chatter reverberates, associations are made and helpful memories – like how touching a hot stove results in a burn – are easily retrieved.

"You see a face and think of a name, you see your office, and you think you need to work; everything is associative," said Tsien, corresponding author of the study in the journal PLOS ONE. "But in mice lacking an NMDA receptor, you can tell the memory patterns are dull and dissociated."

Using the century-old Pavlovian conditioning model that first showed how repetition creates association, they found that mice lacking a functioning NMDA receptor in the hippocampus, the brain's center of learning and memory, could not recollect even something fearful.

When they played a tone, followed 20 seconds later by a mild foot shock, normal mice quickly made the association, down to the timing. The connection essentially never registered with mice lacking the NMDA receptor.

"They form the initial patterns, but don't rehearse them," said Tsien. "Their tones are flat, the association is poor, while everything we register in the healthy brain is associative." To illustrate just how flat, Postdoctoral Fellow Hui Kuang assigned musical notes to the memory activity of each, which resulted in random noise by the NMDA knockout mice compared to a dynamic rhythm from normal mice. (Hear the recordings at http://mcgsites.org/grunews/files/2013/12/Amnesic-brain-recalling-contextual-memories.mp3 and http://mcgsites.org/grunews/files/2013/12/Healthy-brain-recalling-memories.mp3.)

"By knowing what these patterns look like and what they mean, you can use this signature to measure, for example, during aging, why we begin to lose memory and to identify and test drugs that are truly effective at aiding memory," Tsien said.

"You can tell whether there is an issue with reverberation, whether your brain is repeating what you need to remember, or repeats it but somehow stores it badly, so it's not associated with the right things. This study has revealed a lot of fascinating details about what neuroscientists call the brain's neural code" Tsien said."

He wants to look at how aging affects these processes as a next step. The research team also is looking at Doogie, a mouse genetically bred by Tsien and his team in 1999 to be exceptionally smart, to see if they can also learn more about how super memories are made and what they look like.

This ability to decode how and what the brain is remembering, should one day help physicians better assess and treat conditions such as Alzheimer's and schizophrenia, Tsien said. They may find that some answers are already out there, such as drugs that boost reverberation, or a stimulant like caffeine to help retrieve a memory, Tsien said.

His team first reported decoding brain cell conversations as memories were formed and recalled in PLOS ONE in 2009. As with the new study, they used a computational algorithm to translate the neuronal conversations into some of the first pictures of what memories look like.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. The original article was written by Toni Baker. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hongmiao Zhang, Guifen Chen, Hui Kuang, Joe Z. Tsien. Mapping and Deciphering Neural Codes of NMDA Receptor-Dependent Fear Memory Engrams in the Hippocampus. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (11): e79454 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079454

Cite This Page:

Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. "Turning off major memory switch dulls memories." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211132544.htm>.
Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. (2013, December 11). Turning off major memory switch dulls memories. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211132544.htm
Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. "Turning off major memory switch dulls memories." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211132544.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

AP (Oct. 28, 2014) Moms and Dads get a more hands-on approach to parenting with tech-centric products for raising their little ones. (Oct. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Newsy (Oct. 27, 2014) Researchers have come up with another reason why dark chocolate is good for your health. A substance in the treat can reportedly help with memory. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

AFP (Oct. 27, 2014) Coding has become compulsory for children as young as five in schools across the UK. Making it the first major world economy to overhaul its IT teaching and put programming at its core. Duration: 02:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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