New neurons are involved in memory formation

Newly generated neurons in the adult brain are involved in at least one form of memory.

Kenneth Lee(kenlee_fr@yahoo.fr)
Mar 18, 2001

It is now generally accepted that the vertebrate brain continues to produce new neurons throughout life, but it has not been clear whether new neurons are essential for memory formation. In the 15 March Nature, Tracey Shors of Rutgers University, New Jersey, and colleagues present evidence that newly generated neurons in the hippocampus of adult rats are essential for at least one form of memory — the kind concerning the timing of learned responses and temporal relationships between events (Nature 2001, 410:372-376).

Shors et al injected rats with methylazoxymethanol acetate (MAM), a DNA methylating agent that is toxic to proliferating cells. Daily injections over 14 days resulted in a reduction in the number of newly generated cells in the hippocampus by 84%. This treatment impaired the ability of rats to perform a task, called hippocampal-dependent trace conditioning, in which they had to associate stimuli separated in...

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