Lithium restores cognitive function in Down syndrome mice

Down syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is the leading cause of genetically defined intellectual disability. In the brain, Down syndrome results in alterations in the connections between neurons and a reduction in the development of new neurons (neurogenesis) that usually occurs during learning.

In this issue of the , researchers led by Laura Gasparini at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Genova, Italy report that lithium, a drug commonly used for the treatment of mood disorders in humans, restores neurogenesis in the hippocampus, a part of the brain strongly associated with learning and memory.

Lithium also significantly improved the performance of Down syndrome mice in tasks measuring contextual learning, spatial memory, and object discrimination.

These results suggest that lithium-based therapies may help Down syndrome patients.

More information: Lithium rescues synaptic plasticity and memory in Down syndrome mice, Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2012.

Related Stories

Nurturing newborn neurons sharpens minds in mice

date Apr 03, 2011

Adult mice engineered to have more newborn neurons in their brain memory hub excelled at accurately discriminating between similar experiences – an ability that declines with normal aging and in some ...

To make memories, new neurons must erase older ones

date Nov 12, 2009

Short-term memory may depend in a surprising way on the ability of newly formed neurons to erase older connections. That's the conclusion of a report in the November 13th issue of the journal Cell that provid ...

Recommended for you

Making waves with groundbreaking brain research

date Jul 03, 2015

New research by Jason Gallivan and Randy Flanagan suggests that when deciding which of several possible actions to perform, the human brain plans multiple actions simultaneously prior to selecting one of ...

Long-term memories are maintained by prion-like proteins

date Jul 02, 2015

Research from Eric Kandel's lab at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has uncovered further evidence of a system in the brain that persistently maintains memories for long periods of time. And paradoxically, ...

Water to understand the brain

date Jul 02, 2015

To observe the brain in action, scientists and physicians use imaging techniques, among which functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is the best known. These techniques are not based on direct observations ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Supermanread
Dec 03, 2012


This is exciting and I can't wait to hear more details!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.