Toronto: Learning and exploring new ideas at work or home change your brain cells and the process has now been unlocked.
A study by University of British Columbia (UBC) has identified a key molecular change that occurs in the brain when we learn and remember.
The research shows that learning stimulates our brain cells in a manner that causes a small fatty acid to attach to delta-catenin, a protein in the brain.
This biochemical modification is essential in producing the changes in brain cell connectivity associated with learning.
“The discovery gives us a much better understanding of the tools our brains use to learn and remember, and provides insight into how these processes become disrupted in neurological diseases,” explained Shernaz Bamji, an associate professor in UBC’s life sciences institute.
In animal models, scientists found almost twice the amount of modified delta-catenin in the brain after learning about new environments.
While delta-catenin has previously been linked to learning, this study is the first to describe the protein’s role in the molecular mechanism behind memory formation.
It may also provide an explanation for some mental disabilities.
“Brain activity can change both the structure of this protein as well as its function,” added Stefano Brigidi, first author of the article, in the journal Nature Neuroscience.