Memories are made of this: New study uncovers key to how we learn and remember

June 28, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- New research led by the University of Leicester and published in a prestigious international scientific journal has revealed for the first time the mechanism by which memories are formed.

The study in the Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology found one of the key proteins involved in the process of memory and learning. The breakthrough study has potential to impact drug design to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

The discovery was made in the University of Leicester laboratory of Professor Andrew Tobin, Professor of Cell Biology, who is a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow.

The work was done in collaboration with other scientists and published online ahead of print in PNAS- the .

Professor Tobin said: “The work is focused on the mechanisms by which we form memories. We found one of the key proteins involved in the process of memory and learning.

“This protein is present in the part of the brain in which memories are stored. We have found that in order for any memory to be laid down this protein, called the M3-muscarinic receptor, has to be activated.

“We have also determined that this protein undergoes a very specific change during the formation of a memory - and that this change is an essential part of memory formation. In this regard our study reveals at least one of the molecular mechanisms that are operating in the brain when we form a memory and as such this represents a major break through in our understanding of how we lay down memories.

“This finding is not only interesting in its own right but has important clinical implications. One of the major symptoms of Alzheimer's disease is . Our study identifies one of the key processes involved in and learning and we state in the paper that drugs designed to target the identified in our study would be of benefit in treating Alzheimer's disease.”

Professor Tobin said there was tremendous excitement about the breakthrough the team has made and its potential application: “It has been fascinating to look at the molecular processes involved in . We were delighted not only with the scientific importance of our finding but also by the prospect that our work could have an impact on the design of drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.”

The work was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

More information: "The M3-muscarinic receptor regulates learning and memory in a receptor phosphorylation/arrestin-dependent manner" appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 2010 Vol 107 pages 9440-5. www.pnas.org/content/107/20/9440.long

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9 comments

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DarwiN100
5 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2010
Yeah, another goal scored for science. I have a catastrophic memory ever since I was a child so I probably desperately need this protein.. Bring it on.
Where do I order? Or, where do I sign for this gene therapy? ;)
MadPutz
not rated yet Jun 28, 2010
No doubt supplements targeting this will be a booming product for students, athletes, lawyers, investment bankers, businesspeople, and moms learning yoga. I look forward to it!
MarkyMark
5 / 5 (1) Jun 29, 2010
Yeah, another goal scored for science. I have a catastrophic memory ever since I was a child so I probably desperately need this protein.. Bring it on.
Where do I order? Or, where do I sign for this gene therapy? ;)

Dont get too exited a therapy is still years away. Also this protein is only one factor in memory creation so no garantee this would work for you.
kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (4) Jun 29, 2010
I'm quite happy to hear that someone is doing this kind of research. Many suffering people will eventually benefit in some way or the other.

This protein is present in the part of the brain in which memories are stored. We have found that in order for any memory to be laid down this protein, called the M3-muscarinic receptor, has to be activated.


The challenge for evolutionists will be to show precisely how this protein could have evolved from a single cell. Remember that it requires another protein enzyme to act as catalist in the formation and and another in the folding of this protein to be useful. Where and how did the DNA coding for those come from? And to top it all, this protein is simply the end result in a long chain of structural requirements to make memory work at all. What about all the support neural networks and blood supply and food required to maintain the whole memory system?
Evolve that!

kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (3) Jun 29, 2010
I'm quite happy to hear that someone is doing this kind of research. Many suffering people will eventually benefit in some way or the other.

This protein is present in the part of the brain in which memories are stored. We have found that in order for any memory to be laid down this protein, called the M3-muscarinic receptor, has to be activated.


The challenge for evolutionists will be to show precisely how this protein could have evolved from a single cell. Remember that it requires another protein enzyme to act as catalyst in the formation and and another in the folding of this protein to be useful. Where and how did the DNA coding for those come from? And to top it all, this protein is simply the end result in a long chain of structural requirements to make memory work at all. What about all the support neural networks and blood supply and food required to maintain the whole memory system?
Evolve that!

hagureinu
not rated yet Jun 29, 2010
it would be really nice, if articles on breaktroughs like this one contained more details on exact mechainsms. at the moment it's more like - "wow, we've discovered very cool thing, but we are not going to tell you what it is since you're too stupid". that's frustrating
Ethelred
5 / 5 (3) Jun 29, 2010
Evolve that!


We did. That is why you can pretend that it didn't happen.

Obviously you don't have a clue as to how the DNA that codes for proteins evolve.

Remember that it requires another protein enzyme to act as catalist in the formation and and another in the folding of this protein to be useful.


That is quite an assumption. SOME proteins require catalysts for folding. SOME require catalysts for formation. Many come out of the ribosome in a functional state. NONE had to pop into existence as they presently exist.

Where and how did the DNA coding for those come from?


They too evolved from other, often simpler but sometimes more complex, enzymes.

Mutation supplies the change. The environment selects which changes survive. Duplication of genes allows an enzyme to have copy that stays the same and the other can change without the loss of the original.

Ethelred
yyz
5 / 5 (1) Jun 29, 2010
"it would be really nice, if articles on breaktroughs like this one contained more details on exact mechainsms. at the moment it's more like - "wow, we've discovered very cool thing, but we are not going to tell you what it is since you're too stupid". that's frustrating"

I agree. Frustrating AND stupid. Please reread the post.

"More information: "The M3-muscarinic receptor regulates learning and memory in a receptor phosphorylation/arrestin-dependent manner" appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 2010 Vol 107 pages 9440-5. http://www.pnas.o...440.long

hagureinu
5 / 5 (1) Jun 30, 2010
I agree. Frustrating AND stupid. Please reread the post.


hey, come on. are you trying to say that I'm stupid? that's not really smart thing to do. I don't want to spend half a day reading technical text, trying to fetch some grains of gold. but I would defenitely like some concepts, some summary. and that's what I expect to get on this site. and that's not something I'm getting from this article.

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