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How brain quickly transforms our daily experiences into memories

Washington, Oct 16 : Researchers have discovered that nerve cells have a special 'pre-assembly' technique to expedite the manufacture of proteins at nerve cell connections (synapses), enabling the brain to rapidly form memories and be plastic.


Making a memory requires the production of proteins at synapses.

According to the study from The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, The Neuro, McGill University with colleagues at the Universite de Montreal, these proteins then change the strength of the connection or pathway.

In nerve cells the production process for memory proteins is already pre-assembled at the synapse but stalled just before completion, awaiting the proper signals to finish, thereby speeding up the entire process.

When it comes time to making the memory, the process is switched on and the protein is made in a flash. The mechanism is analogous to a pre-fab home, or pre-made pancake batter that is assembled in advance and then quickly completed in the correct location at the correct time.

"It's not only important to make proteins in the right place but, it's also important not to make the protein when it's the wrong time," Dr. Wayne Sossin, neuroscientist at The Neuro and senior investigator on the paper, said.

"This is especially important with nerve cells in the brain, as you only want the brain to make precise connections. If this process is indiscriminate, it leads to neurological disease. This mechanism to control memory protein synthesis solves two problems: 1) how to make proteins only at the right time and 2) how to make proteins as quickly as possible in order to tightly associate the synaptic change with the experience/memory," Sossin said.

--ANI (Posted on 16-10-2013)

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