Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A gene activated in infant and young brains determines learning capacity in adulthood

13.11.2018

This week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA a research team from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) reports that there is a critical period in infant and young brains, when a specific gene needs to be activated to make complex learning in adulthood at all possible. The findings may have implications for child education and treatment of psychiatric disorders in which brain development was disturbed.

During early postnatal development, primary sensory regions of the brain undergo periods of heightened plasticity (critical period), which sculpt neural networks and lay the foundation for adult sensory perception.


“If such critical periods exists for complex behavior has long been debated” says Dietmar Kuhl, director of the Institute for Molecular and Cellular Cognition at the Center for Molecular Neurobiology (ZMNH) of the UKE.

“Our study shows that this is indeed the case. During a critical period in the development of the brain, the gene Arc/Arg3.1 is activated. It is responsible for establishing neuronal networks, which are required later for complex learning.”

In previous work, Dietmar Kuhl and his team identified Arc/Arg3.1 and demonstrated its vital role in storing long lasting memories in adults. Animals lacking this gene exhibit Alzheimer-like loss of memory although they are otherwise perfectly healthy.

In their new study, the Hamburg team discovered that Arc/Arg3.1 is also activated in the brains of infant and young mice. “These findings puzzled us, because mice of this age are not yet capable of forming long term memories”, explains Ora Ohana, who codirected this study with Dietmar Kuhl.

“We now could demonstrate that mice, which expressed the Arc/Arg3.1 gene during infancy and childhood, were capable of faster and more complex learning compared to mice, which lacked the gene during this critical period.”

According to the scientists, the new findings will pave the way to understand how regulation of Arc/Arg3.1 by genetic, environmental factors, as well as experience during childhood can determine adult cognitive capacity.

“This research will ultimately help to provide optimal environments for child-raising and better treatments for neuropsychiatric conditions in which brain development was disturbed”, says Xiaoyan Gao, one of the authors of the study.

The Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE)

Since its foundation in 1889, the Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) has been one of the leading clinics in Europe. With about 11,000 employees, the UKE is one of the largest employer in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.

Together with its University Heart Center Hamburg and the Martini Clinic, the UKE has more than 1,730 beds and treats about 472,000 patients a year. The emphasis in UKE’s research are the neurosciences, cardio-vascular research, care research, oncology, as well as infections and inflammations. Other potential areas of the UKE are molecular imaging and skeletal biology research.

The UKE educates about 3,400 medical specialists and dentists.
Knowledge, Research, Healing through Shared Competence: The UKE | www.uke.de

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Dr. Dietmar Kuhl
Institut für Molekulare und Zelluläre Kognition
Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE)
Falkenried 94
20251 Hamburg
Telefon: 040 7410-56277
d.kuhl@uke.de

Originalpublikation:

Gao et al., Arc/Arg3.1 mediates a critical period for spatial learning and hippocampal networks, Pro-ceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS)

Saskia Lemm | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Science Education:

nachricht How Humans and Machines Navigate Complex Situations
19.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht The Maturation Pattern of the Hippocampus Drives Human Memory Deve
23.07.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Science Education >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Miniature double glazing: Material developed which is heat-insulating and heat-conducting at the same time

Styrofoam or copper - both materials have very different properties with regard to their ability to conduct heat. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz and the University of Bayreuth have now jointly developed and characterized a novel, extremely thin and transparent material that has different thermal conduction properties depending on the direction. While it can conduct heat extremely well in one direction, it shows good thermal insulation in the other direction.

Thermal insulation and thermal conduction play a crucial role in our everyday lives - from computer processors, where it is important to dissipate heat as...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer IAF establishes an application laboratory for quantum sensors

In order to advance the transfer of research developments from the field of quantum sensor technology into industrial applications, an application laboratory is being established at Fraunhofer IAF. This will enable interested companies and especially regional SMEs and start-ups to evaluate the innovation potential of quantum sensors for their specific requirements. Both the state of Baden-Württemberg and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are supporting the four-year project with one million euros each.

The application laboratory is being set up as part of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project »QMag«, short for quantum magnetometry. In this project, researchers...

Im Focus: How Cells Assemble Their Skeleton

Researchers study the formation of microtubules

Microtubules, filamentous structures within the cell, are required for many important processes, including cell division and intracellular transport. A...

Im Focus: World Premiere in Zurich: Machine keeps human livers alive for one week outside of the body

Researchers from the University Hospital Zurich, ETH Zurich, Wyss Zurich and the University of Zurich have developed a machine that repairs injured human livers and keep them alive outside the body for one week. This breakthrough may increase the number of available organs for transplantation saving many lives of patients with severe liver diseases or cancer.

Until now, livers could be stored safely outside the body for only a few hours. With the novel perfusion technology, livers - and even injured livers - can now...

Im Focus: SuperTIGER on its second prowl -- 130,000 feet above Antarctica

A balloon-borne scientific instrument designed to study the origin of cosmic rays is taking its second turn high above the continent of Antarctica three and a half weeks after its launch.

SuperTIGER (Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder) is designed to measure the rare, heavy elements in cosmic rays that hold clues about their origins...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

„Advanced Battery Power“- Conference, Contributions are welcome!

07.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new 'cool' blue

17.01.2020 | Life Sciences

EU-project SONAR: Better batteries for electricity from renewable energy sources

17.01.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Neuromuscular organoid: It’s contracting!

17.01.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>