Manipulating the brain to over-express a protein can selectively erase short- and long-term fear memories in mice without compromising other memories or harming neurons, according to a study out this week in Neuron. The findings offer "a molecular paradigm by which we can actually erase a specific memory," linkurl:Joe Tsien,; a neuroscientist at the Medical College of Georgia and lead author of the paper, told The Scientist in an Email. "This opens a door to better understand memory circuits in the brain." When working with the neurotransmitter NMDA to create a transgenic "smart mouse" he called linkurl:Doogie; in the late 1990s, Tsien noticed that a downstream protein, Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase II (CaMKII), physically interacted with the receptor for NMDA. To better understand CaMKII's involvement in the various stages of memory -- learning, consolidation, storage, and recall -- Tsien's group developed a linkurl:transgenic mouse; that over-expressed αCaMKII, a form of the...
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