The structure of memory

July 5, 2014 by
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

structure of memory

Memory, from your earliest thoughts to today’s grocery list, is a complex process necessary for cognition. The ability to form long term memories requires changes in the synapses Рthe structures neurons use to transmit information.

To better understand how these changes take place, scientists genetically altered mice to lack a molecule that supports the synapse. They found that neurons in mice without this molecule (pictured in white) compensate by generating larger dendritic spines – the visible bumps on the tree-like branches above – compared with normal mice (pictured in green). This small change improved memory in the mice1.

In another study, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine developed a mouse model in which molecules crucial to making memories (beta-actin mRNA) were given fluorescent “tags” so they could be tracked2.

This clip shows them traveling within a live brain cell in real time.

References:

  1. Chao HW, et al. Deletion of CPEB3 enhances hippocampus-dependent memory via increasing expressions of PSD95 and NMDA receptors. Journal of Neuroscience. 2013. 33 (43): 17008-22.
  2. Park et al. Visualization of dynamics of single endogenous mRNA labeled in live mouse. 2014. 343 (6169): 422-424.
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