Declarative memory is described as a flexible, conscience and associative type of memory (i.e., it is based on relations between different stimuli). It differs from other types of memories that allow us to recall effective or emotionally-charged data, or carry out processes such as riding a bicycle or playing an instrument. Declarative memory allows us to remember things such as specific moments of our lives, names of people, what we ate for lunch, the capitals of the world, etc. The malfunctioning of this type of memory is one of the most common symptoms found in those suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
A useful model from which to learn about how declarative memory functions is the social transmission of food preference. In other species, this task is connected to the survival of the species and plays a crucial role in their evolution. In this research, the social transmission of food preference was carried out with experimental rats.
When one rodent sniffs another rodent's snout right after the second one has eaten, the first one will later choose to eat the same exact food. Animals learn to remember what their congeners eat and, in that way, lower the risk of eating new foods that could be harmful to them. In addition, they must later use this information acquired during a brief episode of social interaction in very different circumstances. Therefore, they need the flexible expression of memory, which is one of the main traits of declarative memory.
This task depends on learning how to associate smells, a function that is commanded by a specific region of the brain, the nucleus basalis magnocellularis (NBM), which produces acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter that "transfers information" from one neurone to another through synapses). This chemical substance is essential in making the memory work correctly. The nucleus basalis magnocellularis equivalent in humans is the nucleus basalis Meynert. Precisely this is one of the regions of the brain that shown signs of degeneration among those who suffer from Alzheimer's (and who are often treated with drugs that help to produce acetylcholine).
The acetylcholine produced by the nucleus basalis is transferred to other regions of the brain, where it is "recognised" by receptor molecules. The research team examined the possibility of one part of the brain, the prelimbic prefrontal cortex, being linked to the social transmission of food preference. To do so, they applied a chemical compound to the experimental rats that neutralised the acetylcholine receptors (muscarinic cholinergic receptor) of this region. By blocking the receptor, the effect of the neurotransmitter was also neutralised and the changes in the animals' behaviour were observed.
The results demonstrated that the social transmission of food preference was clearly affected after neutralising the acetylcholine receptors. Researchers also verified that the effects were not due to other aspects that could alter the experiment, such as lack of olfactory perception, motivation or social interaction. The results therefore suggest that the prelimbic prefrontal cortex, via the use of acetylcholine, regulates cognitive operations (e.g. flexibility in behaviour, attention or strategic planning) that could be needed to correctly express social transmission of food preference, and therefore necessary for our declarative memory.
Octavi López Coronado | alfa
Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland
Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy