When memories are made and learning occurs, the connections between brain cells change. Scientists know that an influx of calcium is critical to this process. A theoretical model developed by a Brown University research team shows that cells’ ability to fine-tune this calcium flow not only sparks changes in synapses but also allows cells to maintain a working state of equilibrium.
A research team based at Brown University has created a theoretical model that may shed light on a brain science mystery: What happens to cells when humans learn and remember?
Luk Chong Yeung, a neuroscience research associate, and her colleagues have come up with a concept that hinges on calcium control. Certain receptors, which act like gates, allow calcium to rush into brain cells that receive memory-making information. Once inside these cells, calcium sets off chemical reactions that change the connections between neurons, or synapses. That malleability, known as synaptic plasticity, is believed to be the fundamental basis of memory, learning and brain development.
Wendy Lawton | EurekAlert!
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Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
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The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
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