Brain & Behavior Research Foundation NARSAD Grantee Richard L. Huganir, Ph.D., Professor and Director, Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and colleagues made significant findings related to the creation and storage of long-term memories. The Hopkins’ study, published Jan. 2 in Nature, revealed that long-term memory formation does not depend solely on the brain enzyme PKM-zeta as once believed, although it does play a role. Their research calls into question previous theories that suggested that PKM-zeta was the key to strengthening connections between brain synapses and enabling the creation of memories.
"The prevailing theory is that when you learn something, you strengthen connections between your brain cells called synapses," explains Dr. Huganir. "The question is, how exactly does this strengthening happen?"
Huganir’s team looked at how the strengthening of synapses occurs. The investigators drew on previous research that identified a molecule named ZIP that was thought to be capable of blocking memories by blocking PKM-zeta. They found that just like normal mice, mice that lacked the PKM-zeta enzyme were able to form long-term memories. The study points to a need for further examination to determine what ZIP acts on to block or “erase” memories.
The discoveries by the Hopkins team can be a factor in the development of future treatments for people who suffer from certain types of memory issues, including patients with traumatic memories that may accompany post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety.
Read the full announcement about this study