The maps of electrical brain activity taken during the making of memories are well established, but how those memories are stored and subsequently released remains unclear. In 23 October Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Christy Job and James Eberwine from University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine show how neuronal dendrites use a fast translation mechanism for protein manufacture in a part of the brain devoted to making and storing memories.

Job & Eberwine used multiphoton microscopy to quantitate hippocampal neuron protein synthesis following transfection with green fluorescent protein mRNA. They observed that the rate of mRNA translation in the dendrites was exponentially faster than translation in the cell body. In addition detailed spatial analysis of the subdendritic distribution of fluorescence revealed stable hotspots of particular fast translation (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2001, 10.1073/pnas.231485698).

"This raises the possibility that there is a pattern or code in...

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