Scientists Find Memory Molecule

Aug 27, 2006

In an article in Science magazine, SUNY Downstate researchers describe erasing memory from the brain by targeting a molecular mechanism that controls memory. Finding may be applied to chronic pain, memory loss, and other conditions.

Scientists at SUNY Downstate Medical Center have discovered a molecular mechanism that maintains memories in the brain. In an article in Science magazine, they demonstrate that by inhibiting the molecule they can erase long-term memories, much as you might erase a computer disc.

Furthermore, erasing the memory from the brain does not prevent the ability to re-learn the memory, much as a cleaned computer disc may be re-used. This finding may some day have applications in treating chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and memory loss, among other conditions.

The SUNY Downstate researchers reported in the August 25 issue of Science that an enzyme molecule called “protein kinase M zeta” preserves long-term memories through persistent strengthening of synaptic connections between neurons. This is analogous to the mechanism storing information as 0’s and 1’s in a computer’s hard disc. By inhibiting the enzyme, scientists were able to erase a memory that had been stored for one day, or even one month. This function in memory storage is specific to protein kinase M zeta, because inhibiting related molecules did not disrupt memory.

These findings may be useful for the treatment of disorders characterized by the pathological over-strengthening of synaptic connections, such as neuropathic pain, phantom limb syndrome, dystonia, and post-traumatic stress. Conversely, the identification of the core molecular mechanism for memory storage may focus effort on the development of specific therapeutic agents that enhance memory persistence and prevent memory loss. Earlier this year, SUNY Downstate scientists reported that PKMzeta was bound up in the tangles of Alzheimer's disease, thus perhaps blocking its function in memory storage.

Source: SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Explore further: Himalayan Viagra fuels caterpillar fungus gold rush

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Enzyme enhances, erases long-term memories in rats

Mar 04, 2011

 (PhysOrg.com) -- Even long after it is formed, a memory in rats can be enhanced or erased by increasing or decreasing the activity of a brain enzyme, say researchers supported, in part, by the National ...

Stress can enhance ordinary, unrelated memories

Dec 21, 2010

Stress can enhance ordinary, unrelated memories, a team of neuroscientists has found in a study of laboratory rats. Their results, which appear in the journal PLoS Biology, may bolster our understanding of post-traumatic stress ...

Recommended for you

Himalayan Viagra fuels caterpillar fungus gold rush

12 hours ago

Overwhelmed by speculators trying to cash-in on a prized medicinal fungus known as Himalayan Viagra, two isolated Tibetan communities have managed to do at the local level what world leaders often fail to ...

Science casts light on sex in the orchard

15 hours ago

Persimmons are among the small club of plants with separate sexes—individual trees are either male or female. Now scientists at the University of California, Davis, and Kyoto University in Japan have discovered ...

Researchers capture picture of microRNA in action

15 hours ago

Biologists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have described the atomic-level workings of "microRNA" molecules, which control the expression of genes in all animals and plants.

User comments : 0

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.