Researchers at ULCA have found that lost memories can be restored offering some hope for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.
Most neuroscientists believe that memories are stored at the synapses, the connections between brain cells, or neurons which are destroyed by Alzheimer's disease. The new study provides evidence that long-term memory is not stored at synapses. As long as the neurons are alive, the memory will still be there, which means it could be possible to recover some of the lost memories in the early stages of Alzheimer's.
Senior author David Glanzman said, "Long-term memory is not stored at the synapse. That's a radical idea, but that's where the evidence leads. The nervous system appears to be able to regenerate lost synaptic connections. If you can restore the synaptic connections, the memory will come back. It won't be easy, but I believe it's possible."
Glanzman explained that long-term memory is a function of the growth of new synaptic connections caused by serotonin. As long-term memories are formed, the brain creates new proteins that are involved in making new synapses; and if this process is disrupted the proteins may not be synthesized and long-term memories cannot form. As long as the neurons are still alive, the memory will still be there, which means you may be able to recover some of the lost memories in the early stages of Alzheimer's
The study is published in 'eLife', an open-access online science journal.