Medindia

X

When the Memory is Affected, Other Parts of the Brain Step in to Compensate

by Tanya Thomas on  August 4, 2010 at 11:12 AM Research News   - G J E 4
Researchers at UCLA latest research on the brain's memory capacity is suggesting that when one brain region is damaged, other regions can compensate. This, in effect, busting earlier beliefs that the brain region known as the amygdala would result in the brain's inability to form new memories with emotional content.
 When the Memory is Affected, Other Parts of the Brain Step in to Compensate
When the Memory is Affected, Other Parts of the Brain Step in to Compensate
Advertisement

The amygdala is believed to be critical for learning about and storing the emotional aspects of experience, Fanselow said, and it also serves as an alarm to activate a cascade of biological systems to protect the body in times of danger.

Advertisement
"Our findings show that when the amygdala is not available, another brain region called the bed nuclei can compensate for the loss of the amygdala," said the study's senior author, Michael Fanselow.

"The bed nuclei are much slower at learning, and form memories only when the amygdala is not learning. However, when you do not have an amygdala, if you have an emotional experience, it is like neural plasticity (the memory-forming ability of brain cells) and the bed nuclei spring into action. Normally, it is as if the amygdala says, 'I'm doing my job, so you shouldn't learn.' With the amygdala gone, the bed nuclei do not receive that signal and are freed to learn," he added.

The bed nuclei are a set of forebrain gray matter surrounding the stria terminalis; neurons here receive information from the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus and communicate with several lower brain regions that control stress responses and defensive behaviours.

"Our results suggest some optimism that when a particular brain region that is thought to be essential for a function is lost, other brain regions suddenly are freed to take on the task," said Fanselow.

"If we can find ways of promoting this compensation, then we may be in a better position to help patients who have lost memory function due to brain damage, such as those who have had a stroke or have Alzheimer's disease.

"Perhaps this research can eventually lead to new drugs and teaching regimens that facilitate plasticity in the regions that have the potential to compensate for the damaged areas," he added.

While the current study shows this relationship for emotional learning, additional research in Fanselow's laboratory is beginning to suggest this is a general property of memory.

The research appears in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Source: ANI
Advertisement

Post your Comments

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.
User Avatar
* Your comment can be maximum of 2500 characters
Notify me when reply is posted I agree to the terms and conditions

You May Also Like

Advertisement
View All