Monday, January 26, 2009

Single Cell "Can Store Memories"

Single Cell “Can Store Memories”
BBC News, Monday, 26 January 2009

Just one brain cell is capable of holding fleeting memories vital for our everyday life, according to US scientists.
A study of mouse brain cells revealed how they could keep information stored for as long as a minute.

A UK specialist said that understanding these short-term memories might help unlock the secrets of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The finding was reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

If we can identify and manipulate the molecular components of memory, we can develop drugs… to hopefully allow a person to complete tasks without being distracted

The difference between the brain’s long-term and short-term memory has been likened to the RAM of a computer and the hard-drive.

To perform normal functions, we need the ability to store, quickly and reliably, large amounts of data, but only a small amount of this needs to be retained in the longer term.

Scientists have spent decades working out which parts of the brain are responsible for these functions, and how cells manage this feat.
Original theories suggested the memories were retained by multiple cells forming “circuits” around which electrical impulses were fired for the necessary period.
More recent ideas have centred around the concept that even an individual cell could somehow hold on to information.
Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern looked at brain cells taken from mice using tiny electrodes to measure their function.
They found that a particular component of the cells in question, a chemical receptor, which, when switched on, tells the cell to start an internal signal system that holds the “memory” in place.
Drug Boost
The next step, they say, is to find out more about this internal system so that it could be targeted by drugs with the aim of improving memory.
Dr Don Cooper, the lead researcher, said: “If we can identify and manipulate the molecular components of memory, we can develop drugs that boost the ability to maintain this memory trace to hopefully allow a person to complete tasks without being distracted.”
He said that this could potentially help people addicted to drugs, by improving the ability of their brain to ignore impulses.
Professor Ian Forsythe, from the University of Leicester, said that the information shed on the brain’s ability to retain short-term information was important in understanding the laying down of longer-term memories - and perhaps to understand how to help people for whom that was a problem.
He said: “Probably the most interesting thing will be to get to grips with the memory problems involved in Alzheimer’s Disease.
“If you’ve got no short term memory, you’ve got no chance of longer-term memories.”

(just for academic sake)

Lipat Kajang people (or decendents) are encouraged to participate& contribute (Orang Lipat Kajang, atau keturunan, di jemput memberi sumbangan idea)

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