Manipulating Memory in the Hippocampus

Modifying the levels of tomosyn protein in the hippocampus of mice, researchers noted over production of the protein led to a sharp decline in the ability to learn and memorize information.

In the brain, cell-to-cell communication is dependent on neurotransmitters, chemicals that aid the transfer of information between neurons. Several proteins have the ability to modify the production of these chemicals by either increasing or decreasing their amount, or promoting or preventing their secretion. One example is tomosyn, which hinders the secretion of neurotransmitters in abnormal amounts.

Dr. Boaz Barak of Tel Aviv University’s Sagol School of Neuroscience, in collaboration with Prof. Uri Ashery, used a method for modifying the levels of this protein in the mouse hippocampus — the region of the brain associated with learning and memory. It had a significant impact on the brain’s activity: Over-production of the protein led to a sharp decline in the ability to learn and memorize information, the researchers reported in the journal NeuroMolecular Medicine.

Researchers created a virus which produces the tomosyn protein; a protein which hinders the secretion of neurotransmitters in abnormal amounts. Injecting the virus into the hippocampus region in mice,  researchers performed a series of behavioral tests designed to measure memory, cognitive ability and motor skills. The image shows the location of the hippocampi in the brain.
Researchers created a virus which produces the tomosyn protein; a protein which hinders the secretion of neurotransmitters in abnormal amounts. Injecting the virus into the hippocampus region in mice, researchers performed a series of behavioral tests designed to measure memory, cognitive ability and motor skills. The image shows the location of the hippocampi in the brain.

“This study demonstrates that it is possible to manipulate various processes and neural circuits in the brain,