Long-term memory controls discovered

January 13, 2006

Harvard biologists say research on the long-term memory in fruit flies may lead to new therapeutics to treat human memory loss.

A molecular pathway active in neurons interacts with RNA to regulate the formation of long-term memory in fruit flies. The same pathway is also found at mammalian synapses, researchers said.

"This pathway, called RISC, interacts with RNA at synapses to facilitate the protein synthesis associated with forming a stable memory. In fruit flies, at least, this process makes the difference between remembering something for an hour and remembering it for a day or more," said Professor Sam Kunes.

The findings are published in the online version of the journal Cell.

Using a classical learning test that simultaneously exposes the insects to an odor and an electric shock, the researchers found that long-term memory could be greatly increased by adjusting the activity of the RISC pathway in the fruit flies.

Kunes says the various proteins that comprise the RISC pathway are also found at synapses in mice and humans, suggesting it could be a target for new medications to boost human memory, the university said.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Rescuing fruit flies from Alzheimer's disease

Related Stories

Rescuing fruit flies from Alzheimer's disease

July 15, 2010

Investigators have found that fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) males -- in which the activity of an Alzheimer's disease protein is reduced by 50 percent -- show impairments in learning and memory as they age. What's more, ...

Scientists identify new gene for memory

September 8, 2010

A team led by a Scripps Research Institute scientist has for the first time identified a new gene that is required for memory formation in Drosophila, the common fruit fly. The gene may have similar functions in humans, shedding ...

Attention drug drives memory research

January 20, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists at the Queensland Brain Institute have found a way to measure the attention span of a fly, which could lead to further advances in the understanding of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder ...

Extending lifespan has mixed effects on learning and memory

May 19, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Decreasing the intake of calories and tweaking the activity of the hormone insulin are two methods long known to increase lifespan in a wide range of organisms. In particular, studies have shown that longevity ...

Sleep helps build long-term memories

June 24, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Experts have long suspected that part of the process of turning fleeting short-term memories into lasting long-term memories occurs during sleep. Now, researchers at the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit ...

Recommended for you

Atom-sized craters make a catalyst much more active

November 24, 2015

Bombarding and stretching an important industrial catalyst opens up tiny holes on its surface where atoms can attach and react, greatly increasing its activity as a promoter of chemical reactions, according to a study by ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.