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.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Nurturing newborn neurons sharpens minds in mice

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

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

Myelin vital for learning new practical skills

Oct 16, 2014

New evidence of myelin's essential role in learning and retaining new practical skills, such as playing a musical instrument, has been uncovered by UCL research. Myelin is a fatty substance that insulates ...

Reminiscing can help, not hinder, some mind-bending tasks

Oct 16, 2014

To solve a mental puzzle, the brain's executive control network for externally focused, goal-oriented thinking must activate, while the network for internally directed thinking like daydreaming must be turned down to avoid ...

Bio-X scientists develop decoy drug to aid ailing brain

Oct 16, 2014

A team of Stanford Bio-X scientists has restored the ability of adult mice to form new connections in the brain. If the finding works in people, it has the potential to help adults recover from stroke and ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Supermanread
5 / 5 (1) Dec 03, 2012


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