Hello Brain Cells, Goodbye Memories

IN THIS ISSUE SPRING 2010

Neurons Erase Old Memories

Hello Brain Cells, Goodbye Memories

For years, scientists have pondered the transfer process of memories from the hippocampus to the long-term storage in the brain. A new study led by Kaoru Inokuchi of the University of Toyama in Japan leads scientists to believe that newborn neurons destabilize connections in the hippocampus in order to make room for new memories. The research team investigated the role newly born neurons play in memory transfer. When observing the hippocampus of rodents under stressful conditions, the researchers were able to determine that the memory lingered longer in the hippocampus instead of transferring to the neocortex. These findings, reported in Cell in November, suggest that neurons remove the physiological traces of old memories to make room for and aid in the production of new memories.

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