Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Identify a Process in Formation of Long-term Memory

09.09.2009
A new study that was carried out at the University of Haifa has identified another component in the chain of actions that take place in the neurons in the process of forming memories.

This discovery joins a line of findings from previous studies that together provide a better understanding of the most complex processes in nature – the process of memory formation and storage in the human brain. The new study has been published in the prestigious Journal of Neuroscience.

The human brain is continuously inundated with sensory information on the world: new sounds, tastes, sights and smells and the formation of memory to these inputs is ultimately vital for animal survival. Very little of this information becomes short-term memory. And only a small part of the information that becomes short-term memory ultimately becomes long-term and stabilized memory. Earlier studies that were carried out at the Molecular Mechanisms of Learning and Memory laboratory headed by Prof. Kobi Rosenblum at the University of Haifa found that the an elevation in the expression of the protein PSD-95 is necessary for the formation of long-term memory. The present study aimed to find out whether another molecular process – the addition of a phosphor molecule to the NMDA receptor protein (phosphorylation) – is necessary too.

Earlier studies have proven that changes in the NMDA receptor can adjust the neuronal network in the brain, and that during a learning process this receptor undergoes increased phosphorylation. Until now, it had not been proved that the increase in phosphorylation of the NMDA is necessary for the process and that the process would not occur without it.

In order to prove this, the scientists - headed by Prof. Rosenblum, Head of the Department of Neurobiology and Ethology at the University of Haifa, and Dr. Liza Barki-Harrington, along with Dr. Alina Elkobi and research student Tali Tzabary - chose to focus on the formation of new taste memory in rats as a model for sensory memory. According to the researchers, examining taste-learning processes has advantages in this type of research, since it enables tracking when the process begins, what its specific location is in the brain and the molecular processes that occur during the process.

The first stage of the study aimed to verify the findings of the previous studies and showed that the new taste learning does indeed involve a process of increased phosphorylation in the NMDA receptors in the area specific to learning taste in the brain. In order to do so, mature rats were trained to drink water at set times and after a few days some were given saccharine-sweetened water. The saccharine has no caloric value and therefore has no metabolic impact on the body and cannot affect the body's processes. As expected, the rats that received the newly sweet-tasting water and that began a process of learning, showed an increase in phosphorylation in comparison to those rats that continued drinking regular water.

The second stage of the study was aimed at showing that the phosphorylation process is essential. For this, the scientists injected a new group of rats with a substance that inhibits phosphorylation of the NMDA in the area of taste learning in the brain when drinking the saccharine. Tests that were carried out afterwards showed that these rats were not able to learn the new taste, which proves that the phosphorylation process is necessary for learning taste. The researchers found that obstruction of the process brings about a change in the location of the receptor in relation to the NMDA and thereby is likely to be responsible for inhibiting the formation of long-term memory.

"Our goal is to identify piece after piece of the complex puzzle that is the formation of long-term memory. Once we know how to describe the chain of actions that take place in the brain, we may be able to know where and how to interfere," Dr. Barki-Harrington said.

"The glutamate neural synapses – via the receptors of the NMDA – and dophamin, play a central role in a number of neural pathologies, including processes of addiction and of schizophrenia. There is good reason to assume that one afflicted with schizophrenia has a sub- or over-functioning of this system, and its loss of balance is one of the causes of the illness. A better understanding of this balance - or loss of balance - in the normal processes will enable future discovery of new objectives for developing medications, which we hope will improve patients' lives significantly," Prof. Rosenblum stated.

Amir Gilat | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.haifa.ac.il

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

nachricht Party discipline for jumping genes
22.09.2017 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Hope to discover sure signs of life on Mars? New research says look for the element vanadium

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>