Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research on octopuses sheds light on how brain stores and recalls memory

17.06.2008
Research on octopuses has shed new light on how our brains store and recall memory, says Dr. Benny Hochner of the Department of Neurobiology at the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Why octopuses?

Octopuses and other related creatures, known as cephalopods, are considered to be the most intelligent invertebrates because they have relatively large brains and they can be trained for various learning and memory tasks, says Dr. Hochner.

Their behavior repertoire and learning and memory abilities are even comparable in their complexity to those of advanced vertebrates. However, they are still invertebrate mollusks with brains that contain a much fewer number of nerve cells and much simpler anatomical organization than that of vertebrate brains. This unique constellation was utilized to tackle one of the most interesting questions in modern neuroscience, which is how the brain stores and recalls memories

... more about:
»Hochner »LTP »memories »octopus »short-term »vertebrate

In a previous study, Hochner discovered that an area in the octopus brain that was known to be important for learning and memory showed a robust, activity-dependent, long-term synaptic potentiation (LTP) – a process which is strikingly similar to that discovered in vertebrate brains.

This LTP process accelerates the transformation of information between nerve cells by enhancing the transmission of electrical signals through a special structure called the synapse for days and even a lifetime. It is believed that in the area in the brain that stores memories, the synaptic connections between nerve cells that are more active during a specific learning function are strengthened by this activity-induced LTP. One can describe this process as an “engraving of memory traces” in the neuronal networks that store information for a long time, says Hochner.

In a recent article in the journal, Current Biology, Hochner described how he tested these hypotheses and ideas in the brain of the octopus. He blocked the ability of the brain to use LTP during learning by utilizing artificial LTP and though electrical stimulation.

When LTP was blocked with this technique shortly before training for a specific task, the experimental group of octopuses did not remember well the task when tested for long-term memory the day after training. Similar results were obtained when sensory information was prevented from getting into the learning and memory area by lesioning a specific connection in the brain. These findings therefore support the finding that LTP is indeed important for creating memories.

The fact that this was revealed in an invertebrate suggests that this process (LTP) is an efficient mechanism for mediation of learning and memory. The research results in the octopuses also shed new light on how memory systems are organized. Even if one accepts that LTP is important for learning and memory, however, Hochner stresses that further research will be required to understand how this cellular process is utilized in other animal or human brains for storing memories and how these memories are recollected.

The results can also have implications with respect to the organization of learning and memory systems, says Hochner. It is documented that memory processes can be divided into a short-term memory of minutes or a few hours and long-term memory that can store important events and facts for days or even our entire lifetime. Interestingly, notes Hochner, his results show that as in mammals, including humans, the short and long-term memory in the octopus are segregated into two separate systems, each in different locations in the brain.

It is not completely understood how these two systems are interconnected, if at all. However, the organization in the octopus demonstrates a sophistication that was not described yet in other animals. In the octopus, the short-term and long-term systems are working in parallel, but not independently. This is so because the long-term memory area -- in addition to its capacity to store long-term memories -- also regulates the rate at which the short-term memory system acquires short-term memories. This regulatory mechanism is probably useful in cases where faster learning is significant for the octopus’ survival in emergency or risky situations.

Jerry Barach | The Hebrew University of Jerusal
Further information:
http://www.huji.ac.il

Further reports about: Hochner LTP memories octopus short-term vertebrate

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>