Discovery of cell linked to learning and memory

May 14, 2008

Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) neuroscientists at The University of Queensland have discovered a fundamental component of the process that regulates memory formation.

QBI Director Professor Perry Bartlett said the discovery explains, for the first time, how new nerve cells form in an area of the brain associated with learning and memory – which is known to deteriorate in people with stroke and dementia.

“The hippocampus is the region of the brain involved in important brain functions such as learning and memory and loss of neuronal production in the hippocampus is associated with a range of neurodegenerative conditions, and is particularly evident in ageing dementia.” Professor Bartlett said.

“Surprisingly, however, studies have so far failed to identify a resident stem cell population in the hippocampus that’s capable of providing the renewable source of these essential nerve cells.”

Research by Professor Bartlett and his QBI colleague Dr Tara Walker – which features on this week’s front cover of the Journal of Neuroscience (May 14) – has identified the resident stem cell in the hippocampus and, even more importantly, has discovered how it can be activated to produce new neurons.

According to Dr Walker, an understanding of the activation process should enable the development of therapeutics that can stimulate the production of new neurons and reverse or prevent the cognitive decline that occurs during ageing dementia.

“These significant advances in determining the molecular regulation of nerve production will also have a major impact on our understanding of more complex areas such as behaviour, cognition, neurological disease and mental illness,” she said.

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: The most complete review of the peptide behind Alzheimer's

Related Stories

The most complete review of the peptide behind Alzheimer's

March 30, 2015

The hope is to be able, one day, to fight the pathogenic action of the amyloid-beta protein, whose build-up is associated with Alzheimer's disease. In the meantime, scientists—including a group from the International School ...

Researchers identify algae-virus DNA in humans

October 28, 2014

(Phys.org) —The DNA of a virus once thought confined to the cells of algae may in fact invade the biological kingdom of mice and men, according to a new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins and UNL.

The 'Curie couple' of the Nordics

October 6, 2014

Norway's "Curie couple", May-Britt and Edvard Moser, have been virtually inseparable since their university days, but when news broke they had won the Nobel Medicine Prize, they were hundreds of miles apart.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

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.