American scientists have come out with research findings they hope will aid in the treatment of Alzheimer's patients- by saving bits of memories before they all fade off.
Says lead researcher Alcino Silva, professor of neurobiology and psychiatry at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, after confirming tests on mice: "Making a memory is not a conscious act. Learning triggers a cascade of chemicals in the brain that influence which memories are kept and which are lost."
CREB (cAMP response element binding), a transcription factor found in the brain, which typically increases the production of other proteins in cells, is believed to be involved in memory formation in various organisms.
The scientists hope that their findings, reported in the current issue of Science, may help pave the way to new treatments for Alzheimer's disease.
"Earlier studies have linked the CREB protein to keeping memories stable. We suspected it also played a key role in channeling memories to brain cells that are ready to store them.
"We discovered that the amount of CREB influences whether or not the brain stores a memory. If a cell is low in CREB, it is less likely to keep a memory. If the cell is high in CREB, it is more likely to store the memory", said Silva.
Accordingly, these findings may help improvement treatment.
"By artificially manipulating CREB levels among groups of cells, we can determine where the brain stores its memories. This approach could potentially be used to preserve memory in people suffering from Alzheimer's or other brain injury. We may be able to guide memories into healthy cells and away from sick cells in dying regions of the brain," Silva added.