Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A trace of memory

23.10.2013
Researchers watch neurons in the brain during learning and memory recall

A team of neurobiologists led by Simon Rumpel at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna succeeded in tracking single neurons in the brain of mice over extended periods of time.


Cross section of the auditory cortex of a mouse brain. A single neuron is highlighted by green fluorescent protein. Dendritic spines that are visible along the processes correspond to excitatory synapses.

Copyright: IMP

Advanced imaging techniques allowed them to establish the processes during memory formation and recall. The results of their observations are published this week in PNAS Early Edition.

Most of our behavior – and thus our personality – is shaped by previous experience. To store the memory of these experiences and to be able to retrieve the information at will is therefore considered one of the most basic and important functions of the brain. The current model in neuroscience poses that memory is stored as long-lasting anatomical changes in synapses, the specialized structures by which nerve cells connect and signal to each other.

At the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna, Simon Rumpel and Kaja Moczulska used mice to study the effects of learning and memorizing on the architecture of synapses. They employed an advanced microscopic technique called in vivo two-photon imaging that allows the analysis of structures as small as a thousandth of a millimetre in the living brain.

Using this technology, the neurobiologists tracked individual neurons over the course of several weeks and analysed them repeatedly. They focussed their attention on dendritic spines that decorate the neuronal processes and correspond to excitatory synapses. The analyses were combined with behavioral experiments in which the animals underwent classic auditory conditioning.

The results showed that the learning experience triggered the formation of new synaptic connections in the auditory cortex. Several of these new structures persisted over time, suggesting a long-lasting trace of memory and confirming an important prediction of the current model.

Apart from the changes during memory formation, the IMP-scientists were interested in the act of remembering. Earlier studies had shown that memory recall is associated with molecular processes similar to the initial formation of memory. These similarities have been suggested to reflect remodelling of memory traces during recall.

To test this hypothesis, previously trained mice were exposed to the auditory cue a week after conditioning while tracking dendritic spines in the auditory cortex. The results showed that although some molecular processes indeed resembled those during memory formation, the anatomical structure of the synapses did not change. These findings suggest that memory retrieval does not lead to a modification of the memory trace per se. Instead, the molecular processes triggered by memory formation and recall could reflect the stabilization of previously altered or recently retrieved synaptic connections.

The primary goal of elucidating the processes during memory formation and recall is to increase our basic knowledge. Insights gained from these studies might however help us to understand diseases of the nervous system that affect memory. They may also, in the future, provide the basis for treatments that offer relief to traumatized patients.

Original publication
Kaja Ewa Moczulska, Juliane Tinter-Thiede, Manuel Peter, Lyubov Ushakova, Tanja Wernle, Brice Bathellier and Simon Rumpel: Dynamics of dendritic spines in the mouse auditory cortex during memory formation and memory recall. In: PNAS, online Early Edition, 22 October, 2013.
About the IMP
The Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna is a basic biomedical research institute largely sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim. With over 200 scientists from 30 nations, the IMP is committed to scientific discovery of fundamental molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying complex biological phenomena. Research areas include cell and molecular biology, neurobiology, disease mechanisms and computational biology.
Contact
Dr. Heidemarie Hurtl
IMP Communications
Dr. Bohr Gasse 7
1030 Vienna, Austria
Tel.: (+43 1) 79730 3625
Mobile: (+43 1) 664 8247910
hurtl@imp.ac.at

Dr. Heidemarie Hurtl | idw
Further information:
http://www.imp.ac.at

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fish recognize their prey by electric colors
13.11.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection
13.11.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Fish recognize their prey by electric colors

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Ultrasound Connects

13.11.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>