Enhancing Memory in Mice

Via ScienceDaily: "Even long after it is formed, a memory in rats can be enhanced or erased by increasing or decreasing the activity of a brain enzyme. ... Our study is the first to demonstrate that, in the context of a functioning brain in a behaving animal, a single molecule, PKMzeta, is both necessary and sufficient for maintaining long-term memory. ... Unlike other recently discovered approaches to memory enhancement, the PKMzeta mechanism appears to work any time. It is not dependent on exploiting time-limited windows when a memory becomes temporarily fragile and changeable - just after learning and upon retrieval - which may expire as a memory grows older. ... This pivotal mechanism could become a target for treatments to help manage debilitating emotional memories in anxiety disorders and for enhancing faltering memories in disorders of aging. ... In their earlier studies, [researchers] showed that even weeks after rats learned to associate a nauseating sensation with saccharin and shunned the sweet taste, their sweet tooth returned within a couple of hours after rats received a chemical that blocked the enzyme PKMzeta in the brain's outer mantle, or neocortex, where long-term memories are stored. In the new study, they paired genetic engineering with the same aversive learning model to both confirm the earlier studies and to demonstrate, by increasing PKMzeta, the opposite effect. They harnessed a virus to infect the neocortex with the PKMzeta gene, resulting in overexpression of the enzyme and memory enhancement. Conversely, introducing a mutant inactive form of the enzyme, that replaced the naturally occurring one, erased the memory - much as the chemical blocker did."

Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110304092111.htm

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