Yoshizen's Blog

Research to the Memory Mechanism

This is an interesting article, I found in [Gizmag] news letter.


Researchers may have discovered how memories are encoded

in the brain

By Ben Coxworth

13:07 March 21, 2012

Scientists have developed a theory regarding how the brain stores memories (Photo via Shut...

Scientists have developed a theory regarding how the brain stores memories (Photo via Shutterstock)

While it’s generally accepted that memories are stored somewhere, somehow in our brains, the exact process

has never been entirely understood. Strengthened synaptic connections between neurons definitely have

something to do with it, although the synaptic membranes involved are constantly degrading and being

replaced – this seems to be somewhat at odds with the fact that some memories can last for a person’s lifetime.

Now, a team of scientists believe that they may have figured out what’s going on.

Their findings could have huge implications for the treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Leading the study is Prof. Jack Tuszynski, a physicist from the University of Alberta. Also taking part are his

graduate student Travis Craddock, and the University of Arizona’s Prof. Stuart Hameroff.

The project was inspired by an outside research paper, that described experiments in which memories were

successfully erased from animals’ brains. That study concluded that a specific protein

(calcium-calmodulin dependent kinase complex II, or CaMKII) played a large role in the encoding and

erasing of memories, by strengthening or eliminating neural connections.

Tuszynski and his colleagues noted that the geometry of the CaMKII molecule was very similar to that of

tubulin protein compounds. These tubulins are contained within microtubule protein structures, which in

turn occupy the interiors of the brain’s neurons. They are particularly concentrated in the neurons’ axons

and dendrites, which are active in the memory process.

The scientists wanted to understand the interaction between CaMKII, tubulin and microtubules, so based on

3D atomic-resolution structural data for all three protein molecules, they developed highly-accurate

computer models.

What they discovered was that the spatial dimensions and geometry of the CaMKII and microtubule molecules

allow them to fit together. Furthermore, according to the models, the microtubules and CaMKII molecules are

capable of electrostatically attracting one another, so that a binding process can occur between them.

This process takes place within the neurons, after they have been synaptically connected, to (in some cases)

permanently store memories.

“This could open up amazing new possibilities of dealing with memory loss problems, interfacing our brains

with hybrid devices to augment and ‘refresh’ our memories,” said Tuszynski.

“More importantly, it could lead to new therapeutic and preventive ways of dealing with neurological

diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, whose incidence is growing very rapidly these days.”

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal PLoS Computational Biology.

Source: University of Alberta


Of cause, this research only found how the neurons were connected = its structure, but not the way

how they are configured as a pattern. —– It’s mean, on future, we may repair half impaired memory

= as long as the existing connection (even if it is not in full working order) is still there.

To create new memory or re-create lost memory is not possible. —– still, it is a good step forward.

We are still no way near to find, how the nerve grows to the direction where the next neuron is, and

to create the pattern which represent [ the memory ].


Link to the original Gizmag article >>>



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