NOVA scienceNOW: Of Mice and Memory
describes the learning
and memory experiments Alzheimer's researchers perform on mice to better
understand the disease
memory can be restored.
This NOVA scienceNOW segment:
that Alzheimer's disease robs people of their memories and personality.
that environmental enrichment promotes brain nerve cell connections and
rewiring, resulting in a higher level of memory function.
experiments in which mice learn the
location of a pool exit. Researchers then use a toxin to impair the
memory of some of the mice, making them unable to find the exit. After environmental enrichment (i.e., cages with more equipment),
this memory is
the mice to again
locate the pool
examples of people regaining parts of their personalities and memory after
being moved from sterile, assisted-living environments to more stimulating
explains that in brain
nerve cell nuclei, DNA
is often tightly coiled around spool-like proteins called histones, hiding some learning
and memory genes.
However, when the DNA
loosens, these genes
become exposed and available for transcription. As this happens, nerve cells
make more and stronger connections with each other.
notes that the mice that regained their memories after
environmental enrichment had "loosened" histone DNA coils, which
allowed their memory genes to become
exposed and active.
reports that certain experimental drugs can
help loosen the DNA in brain nerve cells and have helped mice with damaged brain
cells regain memories.
that in the future, specific medicines may be developed to help people regain
memories lost because of brain disease or damage.
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