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A key mechanism of memory formation in brain revealed.

A key mechanism of memory formation in brain revealed.

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In Summary

Scientists from Duke University has learned a mechanism which possibly explains how memories are being formed. This study would help in a lot of medical advancement, especially in neurology.

Editor Posted by Ansheed

The wonder pod

Brian was always a wonder for humans. Since the dawn of human civilization, the brain was one among the organs that evolve better day by day. The brain wasn’t as such once, but now it can store, process and execute millions of functions in a second. It was so amazing, that an experimental effort to mimic a 1-second course of the human brain in a normal state took around 80k processors in world’s best supercomputer. Many studies are widely going on in various parts of the world and one such study from Duke University in association with Max Plank Institute, Florida opened a door to some new mechanism which could possibly explain how a memory is formed in the human brain.

Definitely, science already has found that new neuron networks are formed with each new memory still, the mechanism was much unknown to us. This discovery would definitely help the science world cure some of the brain disorders like epilepsy. When a new memory is formed the neuron connections are been strengthened. Synapses or spaces between neurons are enhanced in signaling and the ends of receiving section called as spines get bigger.

More about the mechanism  

A receptor called as TrkB was long suspected for the spine enlargement, but with this study, it was more confirmed that indeed this receptor not only helps in spine enlargement but has much more role in memory formation. Certain molecular sensors and a special microscope were used in order to track the activity of TrkB receptor. In order to understand the mode of action, they added glutamate, a signaling molecule which did initiate a set of activity which the scientists were able to learn. They found that without the presence of TrkB, spine growth didn’t occur,  which in turn pointed that importance of TrkB signaling.

The study also came up another interesting finding of a molecule that played a lock and key relation with TrkB. Brain-derived neurotrophic growth factor (BDNF) is a molecule that is so important, which is released in synapse that plays a shoulder to shoulder role in developing spine. All the experiments were conducted in mice, but the TrkB –BDNF interaction they found out would help humans better than none another.

Application in medical science.

Epilepsy is one medical malady that can be treated in the light of this study. Now understating the role of TrkB, scientists can modify or inhibit the receptor to avoid repeating epilepsy episodes. Temporal lobe epilepsy is one such case where the release of glutamate in excess leads to seizures. All the necessary data are in hand, the remaining would be to devise a good strategy to implement the findings. 


Stephen C. Harward, Nathan G. Hedrick, Charles E. Hall, Paula Parra-Bueno, Teresa A. Milner, Enhui Pan, Tal Laviv, Barbara L. Hempstead, Ryohei Yasuda, James O. McNamara.Autocrine BDNF–TrkB signalling within a single dendritic spineNature, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nature19766