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Scientists show how you can restore lost memories

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
December 29, 2014
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It's scary to lose memories, especially in the early phases of diseases like Alzheimer's -- you're really losing part of yourself. Thankfully, researchers at UCLA may have found a way to get those memories back. They've conducted experiments suggesting that memories aren't stored in synapses, as established theory dictates. Instead, you only need to make sure that neurons are intact and that the brain can synthesize the proteins needed to form new synaptic links. In a snail, memories came rushing back after scientists stopped using a protein synthesis inhibitor that curbed synaptic growth. Those memories would have been gone forever if the synapses themselves were really the key.

These are early findings, but they should correlate to similar processes in human brains. That, in turn, has big implications for medicine. If you can restore memories by creating synaptic connections, it should be possible to bring back those precious moments if you're suffering from early stage Alzheimer's or other memory-related conditions where the neurons remain intact. It wouldn't help in situations where the neurons are gone (such as late stage Alzheimer's), but it could improve your quality of life for years, if not decades.

[Image credit: Shutterstock / Anson0618]

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