Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Molecular copying makes memories last

Interesting news reports on new findings on the topic of the basis of long term memory. It finds that memories are stored in synapses by a self-copying prion-like protein.

To quote from the second article:

A portion of the structure is self-complementary and—much like empty egg cartons—can easily stack up with other copies of itself. CPEB thus exists in neurons partly in the form of oligomers, which increase in number when neuronal synapses strengthen. These oligomers have a hardy resistance to ordinary solvents, and within neurons may be much more stable than single-copy "monomers" of CPEB. They also seem to actively sustain their population by serving as templates for the formation of new oligomers from free monomers in the vicinity.
Finding a form of molecular copying to be implicated in the basis of long-term memory is no surprise - but it is an interesting and important finding, and it looks as though it may help to illuminate the nature of some of the low-level Darwinian processes that go on in the brain.

Previous findings in the area were reported here: Prion leaves lasting mark on memory

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