Tag Archive: Memory


Scientists say they’ve been able to control specific memories in mice in research that they hope could help treat diseases such as schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder.

It’s long been known that stimulating various regions of the brain can trigger behaviors and even memories – but understanding how these brain functions develop and occur normally has been much harder.

“The question we’re ultimately interested in is: How does the activity of the brain represent the world?” says Scripps Research neuroscientist Mark Mayford.

“Understanding all this will help us understand what goes wrong in situations where you have inappropriate perceptions. It can also tell us where the brain changes with learning.”

The team set out to manipulate specific memories by inserting two genes into mice.

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New connections between brain cells emerge in clusters in the brain as animals learn to perform a new task, according to a study published in Nature. Led by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the study reveals details of how brain circuits are rewired during the formation of new motor memories.

The researchers studied mice as they learned new behaviors, such as reaching through a slot to get a seed. They observed changes in the motor cortex, the brain layer that controls muscle movements, during the learning process. Specifically, they followed the growth of new “dendritic spines,” structures that form the connections (synapses) between nerve cells.

“For the first time we are able to observe the spatial distribution of new synapses related to the encoding of memory,” said Yi Zuo, assistant professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology at UC Santa Cruz and corresponding author of the paper.

In a previous study, Zuo and others documented the rapid growth of new dendritic spines on pyramidal neurons in the motor cortex during the learning process. These spines form synapses where the pyramidal neurons receive input from other brain regions involved in motor memories and muscle movements. In the new study, first author Min Fu, a postdoctoral researcher in Zuo’s lab, analyzed the spatial distribution of the newly formed synapses.

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Efforts to help people with learning impairments are being aided by a species of sea snail known as Aplysia californica. The mollusk, which is used by researchers to study the brain, has much in common with other species including humans. Research involving the snail has contributed to the understanding of learning and memory.

At The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), neuroscientists used this animal model to test an innovative learning strategy designed to help improve the brain’s memory and the results were encouraging. It could ultimately benefit people who have impairments resulting from aging, stroke, traumatic brain injury or congenital cognitive impairments.

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Doorwayblog

Ever get up to retrieve something from another room only to completely forget what you needed after crossing the doorway?

You’re not alone, and scientists think forgetful trips between rooms result from how our brains interpret spatial information.

Researchers already know that walking from one space to another makes people more likely to forget tasks when compared to others who don’t make such a transition. Called “location-updating effect,” the phenomenon also causes people transitioning between rooms (even virtual ones) to take more time while attempting to recall items from memory.

Moving from one space to another seems to cue the brain to refresh itself and pay attention to the new space, making it harder to recall information from the previous space. By then, the previous experience is already filed away in the brain’s working memory, which is why recalling what you need can seem unnecessarily arduous.

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