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Dr. Ateendra Jha
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A new role player in memory consolidation

10 October 2020

Memory consolidation is process of transformation of short term memory to long term memory. There are many studies in past which aimed to find out the process of transformation. Previous studies made us aware that this requires the synthesis of new proteins in brain cells. But till now it was not clear that which subtypes of neurons are involved in this process.

To find out that which neuron is responsible for memory consolidation. researchers used transgenic mice to manipulate the a particular molecular pathway, eIF2α , in specific types of neurons. This pathway is already known for its key role in controlling the formation of long term memory and protein synthesis in neurons. Previous studies also revealed that eIF2α has an important role in nerodevelopmental and nerodegenerative disease.

A group of researchers from McGill-led multinational study discovered that during memory consolidation two distinct process takes place in two different brain networks , the excitatory and inhibitory networks. The excitatory network creates the long term memory while the inhibitory network will block the background noise and allow long term memory to take place. Research answered that which subtype of neurons are involved in memory consolidation, which can be a great finding to develop medication for disorders like Alzheimer's disease and autism.

Researcher found that stimulation of protein by eIF2α in excitatory neurons of the hippocampus was sufficient to enhance the memory formation and modification of synapse. It also revealed that via eIF2α specific types of inhibitory neurons , somatostatin neurons, sufficient to augment long-term memory by tuning the plasticity of neuronal connection. This revealed that these new players, inhibitory neurons, have an important role in memory consolidation. Till now it was believed that eIF2α pathway regulates memory via excitatory neurons.

New finding identify the protein synthesis in inhibitory neurons , specifically somatostatin cells, as novel target for possible therapeutic intervention in disorders like Alzheimer's disease and autism.