A Role for Protein in Learning and Memory

Researchers have identified a protein crucial for understanding both dendritic remodeling and dendritic pruning. This protein and associated pathways are likely one of the primary systems underlying changes in synaptic efficacy, one of the most fundamental aspects of learning.

As a result of neural activity, intracellular stores of calcium increase. This process is known to be involved in long term depression and long term potentiation, the two processes often cited in computational models as the biological agents of unit connection "weight changes." This new research helps elucidate exactly how this process may occur, as a result of dephosphorylation (and hence activation) of a protein called MEF2 which is a negative regulator of synapse formation.

When activated, MEF2 promotes the transcription of several genes known to restrict synapse number. This finding is somewhat counterintuitive, since it means that under conditions of learning new synapses are not generated, but instead the brain remodels those synapses already available to it (although MEF2 has the opposite effect if it's sumoylated, as opposed to phosphorylated, which in turn appears to depend on its location in the brain). Several other other calcium-dependent proteins are also generated (including CREST and CREB) which are known to be involved in the formation of new synapses. The precise nature of the interactions between these conflicting activity-dependent proteins is still a mystery.

For more freely-available information, see this press release.

Related Posts:
A Role for MicroRNA in Learning and Memory
Molecular Basis of Memory


Blogger asdfasdf said...

Life presents us with a lot of mysteries, and one of mine is understanding how you created the code to show 'related posts'.

As far as proteins in learning and memory are concerned, I just ordered a massive amount of GNC Whey Protein. I learned that buying in bulk helps me remember what stores sells them in bulk.

Oh, I know why I wanted to comment. I recommended your blog to a cognitive psychology professor, of mine, at the University of Dayton, Dayton, OH [gotta love those excessively expensive private schools that no has heard about]. I'll be transferring to the University of Tennessee next year for that reason actually.

... A substantial amount of research on the brain in your posts had to relate to what was being lectured - so he's going to reference a bit to your site for his students. Thought I'd let you know...

I think I'll go catch some tv time.

2/23/2006 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Chatham said...

Hey, that's great! Thanks for the comment and recommendations :)

2/24/2006 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger asdfasdf said...

Hey Chatham, I couldnt think of a better place to post a question about something totally unrelated. I've spent a lot of time on learning how to write scripts - so I can create a "related posts" code for my posts. Web Design just isn't brain science. Most codes I made up were incompatible with blogger. I actually thought about switching to FTP (the code works with that method?).

Any advice on your method?

p.s. What do you think about the new logo? I had a graphic designer at my university let me install and register all of the new adobe creativity suite2 software. I had to practically gravel at her feet for it. : ( Where's my dignity?

If you're interested in having that stuff, just let me know, I had an old friend of mine (computer science graduate) creat a crack to allow friends in my apt building to download/register and activate it for their use.

2/25/2006 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Chatham said...

Hey Lavon - New logo looks nice to me - for the related posts I just do it manually; I haven't been able to find a good automated solution either, so... for now it's by hand.

2/26/2006 08:21:00 AM  

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