Today’s Top Science Post –“Human Memory Comes From a Chance Encounter Hundreds of Millions of Years Ago”

 

Human-Memory-2 (1)

 

The particulars surrounding how our memory works has baffled neuroscientists for decades. Turns out, it’s a very sophisticated process involving several brain systems. What about on the molecular level? Inside the brain, proteins don’t stick around longer than a few minutes. And yet, our memories can hang on for our entire lifetime.


Recently, an international collaboration of researchers from the University of Utah, the University of Copenhagen, and the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the UK, discovered something strange about a protein called Arc, reports Bigthink. This is essential to long-term memory formation. What they found was that it has very similar properties to how a virus infects its host. Their findings were published in the journal Cell.

 

In it researchers write, “The neuronal gene Arc is essential for long-lasting information storage in the mammalian brain, mediates various forms of synaptic plasticity, and has been implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders.” They go on to say, “little is known about Arc’s molecular function and evolutionary origins.”

As a result of the study, researchers now believe that a chance encounter occurring hundreds of millions of years ago, led to Arc’s centrality in our memory function today. Assistant professor of neurobiology Jason Shepherd, Ph.D. of the University of Utah, led this research project. He’s dedicated himself to the study of the protein for the last 15 years.

image credit: A protein in our memory behaves like a virus. Pictured: the Simian virus 40.Phoebus87, Wikimedia Commons.

Continue reading… 

Image credit: With thanks to Innovation Essence

"The Galaxy" in Your Inbox, Free, Daily