Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Heidelberg Researchers Identify “Switch” for Long-term Memory

09.07.2013
Heidelberg Researchers Identify “Switch” for Long-term Memory
Calcium signal in neuronal cell nuclei initiates the formation of lasting memories

Neurobiologists at Heidelberg University have identified calcium in the cell nucleus to be a cellular “switch” responsible for the formation of long-term memory. Using the fruit fly “Drosophila melanogaster” as a model, the team led by Prof. Dr. Christoph Schuster and Prof. Dr. Hilmar Bading investigates how the brain learns.


Brain of the “Drosophila melanogaster” fruit fly with its association and learning centres, called mushroom bodies, marked in green. A subgroup of the marked neurons carries out a switching function that creates long-term memory in the flies by controlling the production of "memory proteins" using a nuclear calcium signal.
Jan-Marek Weislogel, IZN, Heidelberg University, and Shamprasad Varija Raghu, Neuroscience Research Partnership, Singapore. With permission of Science Signaling/AAAS.

The researchers wanted to know which signals in the brain were responsible for building long-term memory and for forming the special proteins involved. The results of the research were published in the journal “Science Signaling”.

The team from the Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences (IZN) measured nuclear calcium levels with a fluorescent protein in the association and learning centres of the insect’s brain to investigate any changes that might occur during the learning process. Their work on the fruit fly revealed brief surges in calcium levels in the cell nuclei of certain neurons during learning. It was this calcium signal that researchers identified as the trigger of a genetic programme that controls the production of “memory proteins”. If this nuclear calcium switch is blocked, the flies are unable to form long-term memory.

Prof. Schuster explains that insects and mammals separated evolutionary paths approximately 600 million years ago. In spite of this sizable gap, certain vitally important processes such as memory formation use similar cellular mechanisms in humans, mice and flies, as the researchers’ experiments were able to prove. “These commonalities indicate that the formation of long-term memory is an ancient phenomenon already present in the shared ancestors of insects and vertebrates. Both species probably use similar cellular mechanisms for forming long-term memory, including the nuclear calcium switch”, Schuster continues.

The IZN researchers assume that similar switches based on nuclear calcium signals may have applications in other areas – presumably whenever organisms need to adapt to new conditions over the long term. “Pain memory, for example, or certain protective and survival functions of neurons use this nuclear calcium switch, too”, says Prof. Bading. This cellular switch may no longer work as well in the elderly, which Bading believes may explain the decline in memory typically observed in old age. Thus, the discoveries by the Heidelberg neurobiologists open up new perspectives for the treatment of age- and illness-related changes in brain functions.

Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences:
http://www.izn.uni-heidelberg.de
Prof. Bading’s research group:
http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/izn/researchgroups/bading
Prof. Schuster’s research group:
http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/izn/researchgroups/schuster
Original publication:
Weislogel, J. M., Bengtson, C. P., Müller, M. K., Hörtzsch, J. N., Bujard, M., Schuster, C. M., and Bading, H.: Requirement for Nuclear Calcium Signaling in Drosophila Long-Term Memory. Science Signaling 6 (274), ra33, 07 May 2013, doi: 10.1126/scisignal.2003598
Contact:
Prof. Dr. Hilmar Bading / Prof. Dr. Christoph Schuster
Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences
Phone: +49 06221 54-8218 / +49 6221 54-8300
hilmar.bading@uni-hd.de / schuster@nbio.uni-heidelberg.de
Communications and Marketing
Press Office, phone: +49 6221 54-2311
presse@rektorat.uni-heidelberg.de

Marietta Fuhrmann-Koch | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-heidelberg.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>