Issue Date: February 11, 2008
Protein-Dependent Memory Modification
Protein synthesis in neurons in the brain is critical for stabilizing a recalled memory and storing it away again. On the other hand, protein degradation is required to modify a recalled memory based on new experiences, according to a study by Bong-Kiun Kaang and colleagues at Seoul National University, in South Korea (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1150541). The researchers worked with mice trained to fear a particular location in the lab. Returning the mice to that spot triggered a recall of their fear-associated memories, which began a process that degrades certain synaptic proteins in neurons. This process allowed the mice to begin modifying their memories and overcome their fear, as long as they didn't encounter any further unpleasant experiences in that part of the lab. The researchers confirmed the results by blocking degradation of the synaptic proteins, which prevented the mice from modifying their fear-associated memories.
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