Credit: © Mopic / Fotolia
By Science Daily
Why do we remember some things and not others? In a unique imaging study, two Northwestern University researchers have discovered how neurons in the brain might allow some experiences to be remembered while others are forgotten. It turns out, if you want to remember something about your environment, you better involve your dendrites.
Using a high-resolution, one-of-a-kind microscope, Daniel A. Dombeck and Mark E. J. Sheffield peered into the brain of a living animal and saw exactly what was happening in individual neurons called place cells as the animal navigated a virtual reality maze.
The scientists found that, contrary to current thought, the activity of a neuron’s cell body and its dendrites can be different. They observed that when cell bodies were activated but the dendrites were not activated during an animal’s experience, a lasting memory of that experience was not formed by the neurons. This suggests that the cell body seems to represent ongoing experience, while dendrites, the treelike branches of a neuron, help to store that experience as a memory.
“There are a lot of theories on memory but very little data as to how individual neurons actually store information in a behaving animal,” said Dombeck, assistant professor of neurobiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the study’s senior author. “Now we have uncovered signals in dendrites that we think are very important for learning and memory. Our findings could explain why some experiences are remembered and others are forgotten.”
Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.