Patrick Cox's Tech Digest - View by Tag "memory"

Gene Linked to Disease Found to Play a Critical Role in Normal Memory Development

August 14, 2014

Investigators from The Scripps Research Institute, writing in PLOS ONE, report that the mutation of the huntingtin gene, known to contribute to the development of Huntington’s disease, has a long-term-memory-related role in the brain when the gene functions properly. Huntingtin, under normal circumstances, affects synaptic plasticity, or the way brain synapses grow and change over time as memories are ingrained for long-term recall. This research demonstrates the overall necessity of the huntingtin gene and could lead to new techniques for treating Huntington’s disease.

Lack of Naturally Occurring Protein Linked to Dementia

August 27, 2014

University of Warwick scientists, also releasing new work in a Nature Communications article, reveal that the absence of the MK2/3 protein could be related to adverse physiological changes to nervous system cells. The absence of this protein is also thought to be connected to dementia and difficulty forming new memories. The scientists discovered that postsynaptic neurons lacking MK2/3 were structurally different than neurons containing the protein. Further MK2/3 study and research, therefore, could provide new insight into the onset of dementia and potentially lead to new ways of improving brain function and memory.

Mental Rest and Reflection Boost Learning, Study Suggests

October 21, 2014

University of Texas at Austin scientists, writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal that resting reflection could boost the process of learning and memory formation. In two memory study groups, those subjects who used rest time to reflect on what they had already learned fared better in later tests than those who used rest time to think of other things. This research suggests that new information doesn’t necessarily interfere with standing memory, and that focused reflection could actually help “consolidate and strengthen” new information more efficiently.

Neuroscientists Offer Novel Insight on Brain Networks

November 4, 2014

University of Texas at Dallas scientists, writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have used mathematical graph theory to map the extent to which different brain networks work together as well as how networks change over time and affect memory as we age. In the aging brain, less segregated brain networks become “less specialized” and can contribute to loss of memory. To map and compare brain networks, the scientists looked at 210 brain scans from subjects aged 20 to 89.

Complex Jobs ‘May Protect Memory’

November 20, 2014

The BBC reports that according to a study of 1,000 70-year-olds in Scotland, conducted by Heriot-Watt University and appearing in the journal Neurology, more complex or “mentally taxing” jobs in younger age could potentially protect against memory loss and cognitive decline as a person ages. Through memory tests and questionnaires, the researchers determined the more varied and complex a person’s work, involving tasks like negotiations and data synthesis, the more protected their brains may be. One theory is that consistent, long-term mental stimulation helps to build a kind of functioning “reserve” that protects against declining memory.

Existing Drug, Riluzole, May Prevent Foggy “Old Age” Brain, Research Shows

December 23, 2014

New data appearing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from Rockefeller University and Icahn School of Medicine scientists reveals that riluzole, a drug currently on the market and used to treat ALS, could also help prevent neuron decay in non-ALS patients. In a study on rats, for example, researchers found the treated rats performed better in memory tasks than non-treated rats and also showed an increase in synaptic strength in their brains. With further study, this existing drug could become a powerful new tool to protect aging brains and preserve neuron function.

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