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: US scientists make embryonic stem cells from adult skin

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Birds and humans have similar brain wiring

Jul 17, 2013

You may have more in common with a pigeon than you realise, according to research. It shows that humans and birds have brains that are wired in a similar way.

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.