You may have tried squeezing all the contents for your next meeting in your head before completely forgetting them right after the meeting; but you can always remember your wedding details, the first kiss to your beloved one, and your baby’s birth.
Scientists have been digging what’s hiding behind our memory, and their understanding of the mechanism has reached a new and deeper point recently. The discovery also suggests new targets against neurodegenerative disease characterized by memory loss, for example Alzheimer's disease.
How cells regulate long-lasting memories
Imagine there are many small hands in your brain handshaking with each other. When the hands are holding tightly together, your memory is strengthened; when they are loose, your memory vanishes.
These hands are tiny branches extending out from neurons called axons. The axons connect with each other, and the connection points are called synapses. The metaphor of handshaking above is when synapses are strengthened or weakened.
There is another thing, a kind of protein called CPEB3. CPEB3 appears when the hands are holding tightly – when memories are formed and recalled. If there is no CPEB3, you can form a new memory but cannot keep it intact.
But CPEB3 is not “offered when needed”. It is regularly produced and stores, and constantly exists in the synapses. But it is only activated under certain circumstances. When not used, CPEB3 is stored in a kind of granule called processing bodies (P bodies).
When not used, P bodies wait in the synapses containing CPEB3. When an animal has an experience and begins to form a memory, the P bodies dissolve, and CPEB3 is released into synapses to help create the memory. The more CPEB3 is released, the stronger the synapses, or your memories are.
"The science of how synapses form and are strengthened over time is important for deciphering any disorder in which synapses – and the memories associated with them – degrade and die, such as Alzheimer's disease," said one of the researchers, Dr. Fioriti.
"By continuing to build this understanding, we could one day develop useful methods to boost CPEB3 in a way that prevents synaptic degradation, thus slowing memory loss."
How to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
“Memory is what makes us who we are. It permeates our lives and is fundamental to our very existence. But at its core, memory is a biological process, not unlike a heartbeat.” Said another researcher in the study above.
To know how you can prevent yourself from Alzheimer’s Disease, click here: Protect Yourself from Alzheimer’s.