Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How Memory and Schizophrenia are Connected

14.02.2014
Many psychiatric disorders are accompanied by memory deficits. Basel scientists have now identified a network of genes that controls fundamental properties of neurons and is important for human brain activity, memory and the development of schizophrenia. Their results have been published in the online edition of the US journal Neuron.

The ability to hold transitory information - e.g. memorizing a telephone number - is a fundamental function of the human brain. This so-called working memory enables us to understand the world that surrounds us.


Activation of voltage-gated ion channels in the cerebellum. (Illustration: MCN)

To keep the working memory running, our brain uses a lot of energy, however, in many psychiatric disorders working memory is disturbed. Scientists of the Transfaculty Research Platform “Molecular and Cognitive Neurosciences” (MCN) at the University of Basel and the Psychiatric University Clinics have now described a network of genes that controls fundamental properties of neurons and is related to working memory, brain activity and schizophrenia.

Ion channels as key players

In the current study, Angela Heck analyzed the genetic basis of working memory in over 2800 healthy participants across different age groups. She then used bioinformatics methods in order to identify biologically meaningful groups of genes. The analysis revealed that one group of genes, the group of voltage-gated ion channels, was of particular relevance. These molecules are regulating a very basic property of neurons: their electric excitability. The same method was also applied to a population of over 32.000 participants, made up of both patients suffering from schizophrenia and healthy participants. Again, the ion channels belonged to the gene group with the strongest genome-wide effects.

In a further step, Matthias Fastenrath studied the brain activity of 700 healthy participants via functional imaging while they were were solving working memory tasks. The group of genes of the ion channels correlated strongly with the activity of two brain regions in the cerebrum and the cerebellum. Earlier studies have shown that these two brain regions are important for a functioning working memory. Molecules regulating the electric excitability of neurons are thus important for human working memory and neural processes of defined regions. Malfunctions of this mechanism may also contribute to the development of schizophrenia.

Starting point for drug development

The results of this study contribute to the understanding of the molecular basis of memory processes and psychiatric disorders. The findings provide a good starting point for the development of drugs aimed at treating memory-related and psychiatric disorders.

The Transfaculty Research Platform MCN is a joint endeavor of the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Basel and the Psychiatric University Clinics. Its goal is to advance research on the neurobiological underpinnings of human emotional and cognitive processes and to contribute to the development of novel treatment options for neuropsychiatric disorders. Human genetics and functional imaging are the methodological backbone of MCN’s research. The platform is jointly led by Prof. Dominique de Quervain and Prof. Andreas Papassotiropoulos.

Orignial source

Heck, A., Fastenrath, M., Ackermann, S., Auschra, B., Bickel, H., Coynel, D., Gschwind, L., Jessen, F., Kaduszkiewicz, H., Maier, W., Milnik, A., Pentzek, M., Riedel-Heller, S.G., Ripke, S., Spalek, K., Sullivan, P., Vogler, C., Wagner, M., Weyerer, S., Wolfsgruber, S., de Quervain, D.J.F., Papassotiropoulos, A.
Converging genetic and functional brain imaging evidence links neuronal excitability to working memory, psychiatric disease, and brain activity.

Neuron, online | DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.01.010

Further information

Prof. Dr. med. Andreas Papassotiropoulos, Transfaculty Research Platform “Molecular and Cognitive Neuroscience”, Faculty of Psychology at the University of Basel and the Psychiatric University Clinics, phone: +41 (0)61 267 05 99, email: andreas.papas@unibas.ch

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0896627314000154
- Abstract
https://mcn.unibas.ch
- Transfaculty Research Platform "Molecular and Cognitive Neurosciences" (MCN)

Christoph Dieffenbacher | Universität Basel
Further information:
http://www.unibas.ch

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University

nachricht The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>