Researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK believe they may be one step closer to understanding how memory – and memory loss – occurs.
The team of scientists has identified certain cellular and molecular mechanisms in the brain that could shed light on the processes of recognition memory.
The researchers were able to halt visual recognition in rats by blocking certain mechanisms that affect communication between nerve cells in the brain.
“This is a major step forward in our understanding of recognition memory,” said Zafar Bashir, a Professor of Cellular Neuroscience, who led the team at Bristol University.
“We have been able to show that key processes controlling synaptic communication are also vital in learning and memory.”
Until now, the actual changes that occur in the brain to allow learning have not been very well understood.
But Professor Bashir said these results could increase understanding of memory loss.
“The next step is to try to understand the processes that enable visual memories to be held in our brains for such long periods of time, and why these mechanisms begin to break down in old age.”