Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Memories are harder to forget than currently thought

16.03.2004


While it might not seem so the next time you go searching for your car keys, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have shown that memories are not as fluid as current research suggests. Their findings challenge the prevailing notion on how memories are stored and remembered – or that a recalled memory could be altered or lost as it is "re-remembered."



"Current theories of memory state that the act of remembering turns a stored memory into something malleable that then needs to be re-encoded," said K. Matthew Lattal, a postdoctoral researcher in Penn’s Department of Biology and a co-author of the study. "We show that the act of retrieving an old memory and then putting it back into storage is a different process than creating a memory in the first place. Unfortunately, it could mean that ’erasing’ traumatic memories is not as simple as one might hope."

The study will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and will be available on the Internet this week in the PNAS Online Early Edition.


Previous studies in rodents had shown that the process of encoding a memory could be blocked by the use of a protein synthesis inhibitor called anisomycin. Experiments with anisomycin helped lead to the acceptance of a theory in which a learned behavior is consolidated into a stored form and that then enters a ’labile’ – or adaptable – state when it is recalled. According to these previous studies, the act of putting a labile memory back into storage involves a reconsolidation process identical to the one used to store the memory initially. Indeed, experiments showed that anisomycin could make a mouse forget a memory if it were given anisomycin directly after remembering an event.

In the PNAS study, however, the Penn researchers showed that disruption of a "re-remembered" memory was not permanent.

"When we looked at mice 21 days after they were treated with anisomycin to block the reconsolidation of a memory, we showed that they could, in fact, remember the original learned behavior," Lattal said. "If you use the anisomycin, you can destroy a ’fresh’ memory, but the ’forgetting’ effect of anisomycin on an established memory is only temporary, at best."

According to the Penn researchers, the prominent theory of how memories are stored cannot account for the return of a supposedly forgotten memory. Accounting for the temporary loss of memories following the act of remembering will require further study.

"Whatever molecular mechanism occurs as a memory is being put back into storage, it allows the original memory to remain unaffected," said Ted Abel, an assistant professor in Penn’s Department of Biology and co-author of the study. "Ultimately, ’reconsolidation’ might not be an accurate portrayal of what is happening."

Memory-related illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, would undoubtedly benefit from a more accurate understanding of the molecular events behind memory storage.

"There is much we don’t know about the molecular events that occur as our brain processes memories – and much good that can come out of a deeper understanding of how memories work," Abel said.


The research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Merck Foundation, the Packard Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania Research Foundation and the Whitehall Foundation.

Greg Lester | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.upenn.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New application for acoustics helps estimate marine life populations
16.01.2018 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht Unexpected environmental source of methane discovered
16.01.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk

17.01.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Only an atom thick: Physicists succeed in measuring mechanical properties of 2D monolayer materials

17.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Fraunhofer HHI receives AIS Technology Innovation Award 2018 for 3D Human Body Reconstruction

17.01.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>