Lithium restores cognitive function in Down syndrome mice

December 3, 2012

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.

Explore further: Researchers restore memory process in most common form of mental disability

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

Related Stories

To make memories, new neurons must erase older ones

November 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 provides some of the ...

New Down syndrome treatment suggested by study in mice

November 18, 2009

At birth, children with Down syndrome aren't developmentally delayed. But as they age, these kids fall behind. Memory deficits inherent in Down syndrome hinder learning, making it hard for the brain to collect experiences ...

Nurturing newborn neurons sharpens minds in mice

April 3, 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 anxiety disorders. ...

Recommended for you

Amputees' brains remember missing hands even years later

August 30, 2016

Our brains have a detailed picture of our hands and fingers, and that persists even decades after an amputation, Oxford University researchers have found. The finding could have implications for the control of next generation ...

Brain's internal compass also navigates during imagination

August 30, 2016

When you try to find your way in a new place, your brain creates a spatial map that represents that environment. Neuroscientists from Radboud University's Donders Institute now show that the brain's 'navigation system' is ...

Special nerve cells cause goose bumps and nipple erection

August 29, 2016

The sympathetic nerve system has long been thought to respond the same regardless of the physical or emotional stimulus triggering it. However, in a new study from Karolinska Institutet published in the Nature Neuroscience, ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Supermanread
3 / 5 (2) 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.