Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Early life stress can lead to memory loss and cognitive decline in middle age

12.10.2005


UCI study shows link between infant stress and later deficits in brain-cell communication for learning and memory function
Psychological stress during infancy has been found to cause early impaired memory and a decline in related cognitive abilities, according to a UC Irvine School of Medicine study. The study suggests that the emotional stress associated with parental loss, abuse or neglect may contribute to the type of memory loss during middle-age years that is normally seen in the elderly.

The study, conducted in rats, is believed to be the first to show that early life emotional stress initiates a slow deterioration of brain-cell communication in adulthood. These cell-signaling deficits occur in the hippocampus, a brain region involved in learning, storage and recall of learned memories. Study results appear in the Oct. 12 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.


"The loss of cognitive function later in life is probably a result of both genetic and environmental factors," said study leader Dr. Tallie Z. Baram, the Danette Shepard Chair in Neurological Sciences. "While it is not yet possible to change a person’s genetic background, it may be feasible to block the environmental effects, particularly of early life stress, on learning and memory later in life. These studies point to the development of new, more effective ways to prevent cognitive impairment later in life."

In their study, Baram, post-graduate researcher Kristen Brunson and colleagues found that limiting the nesting material in cages where neonatal rats lived with their mothers led to emotional stress for both mothers and pups. All evidence of this stress disappeared by the time the pups reached adulthood.

However, starting in middle age, these "graduates" of early life stress began to exhibit deficits in their ability to remember the location of objects they had seen before, as well as to recognize objects that they had encountered on the previous day. Strikingly, these difficulties worsened as the rats grew older, much more rapidly than in rats that were raised for their first week of life under typical nurturing environment.

The researchers teamed up with Gary Lynch, a UCI professor of psychiatry and human behavior and a world leader in the study of the mechanisms of learning and memory, to understand the effects early life stress had on the brain-cell activity in the rats. The normal increase in brain communication through synapses, considered to be the cellular basis for learning and memory, was found to be faulty in the middle-aged rats exposed to early life stress.

In testing these cellular abnormalities, the researchers recorded the electrical activity of brain cells, which appeared normal in young adult rats exposed to early life stress, but became very disturbed as they reached middle age. These changes in brain-cell activity were consistent with the rats’ behavioral changes.

More than 50 percent of the world’s children are raised under stressful conditions, as revealed by UNESCO last year. While it has been suspected that early life stress can lead to later cognitive impairment, it is not yet possible to affirm this suspicion in human studies, because children’s genetic background or other confounders make these analyses too complex.

The current study allows investigators to show that the early stress itself is responsible for the cognitive decline. In addition, now that concrete deficits in brain-cell communication have been found, the new understanding of the cellular basis for how this occurs will permit the researchers to find the specific molecules involved and to design medicines to prevent the deficits.

Tom Vasich | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uci.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision

06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

A new dead zone in the Indian Ocean could impact future marine nutrient balance

06.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

06.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>