What's the biochemical basis for our learning and storing the names, events, sights, and sounds that stay with us for a lifetime? Can we, in fact, reduce and explain these bits of nostalgia in terms of the inner workings of cellular and molecular mechanisms, phenomena in the brain at the synapses between neurons?

Seth Grant and Richard Morris
More than 30 years ago, investigators believed that they'd taken a huge step toward doing precisely that. Terje Lomo, then a Ph.D. student at the University of Oslo, found a cellular event that appeared to have many of the properties necessary for a suitable long-term memory substrate. Lomo first observed this mechanism, dubbed long-term potentiation (LTP), in 1966,1 and in 1973 he and Timothy Bliss, now head of the division of neurophysiology and neuropharmacology at the National Institute for Medical Research in London, published the first complete LTP study,...

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