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 Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells
12.12.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Smelling the forest – not the trees
12.12.2018 | Universität Konstanz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

CCNY-Yale researchers make shape shifting cell breakthrough

12.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Pain: Perception and motor impulses arise in the brain independently of one another

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>