It is safe to say that the human brain is one of the symbols of mystery in our whole universe; this does not stop the brain from pushing us to delve deeper into its functions, trying to find out how it works exactly, and how does it store memories. What if we were able to control the amount of information it can store? Is it possible to manipulate the molecules it holds in its midst to allow for us to ‘save’ more memories? A new study that could prove to be invaluable to patients of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease might be leading us to this.
A new study has discovered precious information concerning how brain processing is affected by certain molecules which ultimately impacts upon one’s memory. Scientists from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) have found that when a certain molecule is removed, brain function and memory recall are improved. Does this imply that we can play with the contents of the brain and control the amount of information stored? We can keep our hopes high.
Previously, scientists had identified the production of new molecules that allow the brain to store memories; if the manufacture of these molecules is inhibited, new memories are not built up. The recent study has shown the other side of the coin, and might constitute invaluable data for researchers working on neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
The newly-discovered molecule is a key protein, known as Fragile X Related Protein 1 (FXR1P) that inhibits the production of the other beneficial substances essential for memory formation. When the activity of this protein is suppressed, more information can thus be retained by the brain. During the experiments, it was observed that the selective removal of FXR1P led to the formation of molecules that reinforced links between brain cells, culminating into an improved memory.
One of the authors, Dr Murai, stated:
“The role of FXR1P was a surprising result. Previous to our work, no-one had identified a role for this regulator in the brain. Our findings have provided fundamental knowledge about how the brain processes information. We’ve identified a new pathway that directly regulates how information is handled and this could have relevance for understanding and treating brain diseases.”
Dr Murai is of the opinion that future research in this field would be extremely interesting. He is positive that if the activity of FXR1P is controlled, the amount of brain activity might be modified to help patients suffering from diseases like autism and Alzheimer’s disease.