Washington:Researchers have identified the neural processes that make some memories fade rapidly while other memories persist over time. Using mouse models, Caltech researchers determined that strong, stable memories are encoded by “teams” of neurons all firing in synchrony, providing redundancy that enables these memories to persist over time. The research has implications for understanding how memory might be affected after brain damage, such as by strokes or Alzheimer’s disease, reported the study published in journal, ‘Science.’
Led by postdoctoral scholar Walter Gonzalez, the team developed a test to examine mice’s neural activity as they learn about and remember a new place. “Imagine you have a long and complicated story to tell. In order to preserve the story, you could tell it to five of your friends and then occasionally get together with all of them to re-tell the story and help each other fill in any gaps that an individual had forgotten.
Additionally, each time you re-tell the story, you could bring new friends to learn and therefore help preserve it and strengthen the memory. In an analogous way, your own neurons help each other out to encode memories that will persist over time,” Gonzalez explained. This work suggested that memories might fade more rapidly as we age because memory is encoded by fewer neurons, and if any of these neurons fail, the memory is lost.