New research shows that CREB activation in the brain influences the formation of new memories. This discovery could lead to effective treatment for Alzheimer’s patients, as well as, other memory impairing conditions.
University of California and The Hospital for Sick Children in Torontoresearchers test mice to see if the protein CREB plays a vital role in the process of making new memories.
The test consisted of injecting CREB into the brains of genetically altered mice who lacked sufficient levels of CREB. Once injected, these memory impaired mice performed as well as normal mice in tests of memory.
The mice who had been genetically altered suffered from memory impairment and other learning difficulties. After injecting the mice with CREB, they were subjected to testing that involved an auditory stimulus followed by a mild shock. When the sound was played again, the CREB injected mice, as well as, the normal mice stopped in apparent anticipation of a following shock. This reaction is commonly associated with a reaction to fear.
The treated mice performed as well as normal mice in this test of memory, suggesting that CREB does play a role in the formation of new memories.
Further investigation of the brain activity in these mice, undertaken by inserting a probe that would give of a fluorescent marker if genes in the brain had stimulated neuron activity. Markers in the neurons immediately after treatment indicated activity within the last 5 minutes. Markers in the dendrite signaled activity within the last 20 minutes.
The results showed that those cells that had received CREB were three times more likely to be activated than the impaired cells.
These tests showed that 20% of the neurons had recently been active. It is also 20% that of neurons that create new memories. Although the percentages are the same, it is not always the same 20% that creates new memories. Researches believe that different neurons may be activated according to the memory that is being created.
Sheena Josselyn, co-author of the study and neurophysiologist from The Hospital for Sick Children, was quoted by Scientific America. “In time, we’re going to have some sort of neuron-replacement therapy for Alzheimer’s,” “It’s a little sci-fi right now. But, if new neurons are inserted into a damaged brain, modulating CREB function could help bias the healing brain to use the functioning neurons and not its injured population.”
London Free Press