If you find yourself forgetting information you have only your synapses to blame. These connections between neurons are what hold on to memories. When they break, there in a flash goes the name of that new coworker.
That's been the theory for some time now, but Mark Schnitzer, PhD, who is a professor of biology and applied physics, has now shown it to be true. He was able to watch connections form and break in a region of the brain called the hippocampus, where memories are stored for about 30 days in the mice they worked with.
He and his collaborators found that the average synapse also lasts about 30 days in that region, suggesting that the synapse and the memory are related.
For a story I wrote about the work, Schnitzer told me, “Just because the community has had a longstanding idea, that doesn’t make it right.”
He said that his findings, which were published today in Nature, open up the field to investigating other aspects of memory including in stress or disease models.
Previously: Fly-snatching robot speeds biomedical research, Federal BRAIN Initiative funds go to create better sensors for recording the brain's activity, The rechargeable brain: Blood plasma from young mice improves old mice's memory and learning and Individuals' extraordinary talent to never forget could offer insights into memory
Image by Flood G