Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A trace of memory

23.10.2013
Researchers watch neurons in the brain during learning and memory recall

A team of neurobiologists led by Simon Rumpel at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna succeeded in tracking single neurons in the brain of mice over extended periods of time.


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.

Copyright: IMP

Advanced imaging techniques allowed them to establish the processes during memory formation and recall. The results of their observations are published this week in PNAS Early Edition.

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.

Original publication
Kaja Ewa Moczulska, Juliane Tinter-Thiede, Manuel Peter, Lyubov Ushakova, Tanja Wernle, Brice Bathellier and Simon Rumpel: Dynamics of dendritic spines in the mouse auditory cortex during memory formation and memory recall. In: PNAS, online Early Edition, 22 October, 2013.
About the IMP
The Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna is a basic biomedical research institute largely sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim. With over 200 scientists from 30 nations, the IMP is committed to scientific discovery of fundamental molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying complex biological phenomena. Research areas include cell and molecular biology, neurobiology, disease mechanisms and computational biology.
Contact
Dr. Heidemarie Hurtl
IMP Communications
Dr. Bohr Gasse 7
1030 Vienna, Austria
Tel.: (+43 1) 79730 3625
Mobile: (+43 1) 664 8247910
hurtl@imp.ac.at

Dr. Heidemarie Hurtl | idw
Further information:
http://www.imp.ac.at

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Closing the carbon loop
08.12.2016 | University of Pittsburgh

nachricht Newly discovered bacteria-binding protein in the intestine
08.12.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

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

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>