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Mechanism behind the activation of dormant memory cells discovered

The electrical stimulation of the hippocampus in in-vivo experiments activates precisely the same receptor complexes as learning or memory recall. This has been discovered for the first time and the finding has now been published in the highly respected journal “Brain Structure Function”. “This may form the basis for the use of medications aimed at powering up dormant or less active memory cells,” says Gert Lubec, Head of Fundamental Research / Neuroproteomics at the University Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the MedUni Vienna. 

“This discovery has far-reaching consequences both for the molecular understanding of memory formation and the understanding of the clinical electrical stimulation, which is already possible, of areas of the brain for therapeutic purposes,” says the MedUni Vienna researcher.  Similar principles are currently already being used in the field of deep brain stimulation. With this technology, an implanted device delivers electronic impulses to the patient’s brain. This physical stimulation allows neuronal circuits to be influenced that control both behaviour and memory.

The latest findings very much form part of the highly controversial subject of “cognitive enhancement”. Scientists are currently discussing the possibility of improving mental capacity through the use of drugs - including in healthy subjects of all age groups, but especially in patients with age-related impairments of cognitive processes.

With regard to the study design, two electrodes were implanted into the brain in an animal model. One transferred electrical impulses to stimulate the hippocampus, while the other transferred the electrical signals away. “These electrical potentials are the electrical equivalent of memory and are known as LTP (Long Term Potentiation),” explains Lubec. The generation of LTP in an in-vivo experiment was accompanied by specific changes in the receptor complexes - the same receptor complexes that are also activated during learning and memory formation.

neurosciencestuff:

‘Love hormone’ oxytocin carries unexpected side effect

The love hormone, the monogamy hormone, the cuddle hormone, the trust-me drug: oxytocin has many nicknames. That’s because this naturally occurring human hormone has recently been shown to help people with autism and schizophrenia overcome social deficits.

As a result, certain psychologists prescribe oxytocin off-label, to treat mild social unease in patients who don’t suffer from a diagnosed disorder. But that’s not such a good idea, according to researchers at Concordia’s Centre for Research in Human Development. Their recent study — published in Emotion, a journal of the American Psychological Association — shows that in healthy young adults, too much oxytocin can actually result in oversensitivity to the emotions of others.

With the help of psychology professor Mark Ellenbogen, PhD candidates Christopher Cardoso and Anne-Marie Linnen recruited 82 healthy young adults who showed no signs of schizophrenia, autism or related disorders. Half of the participants were given measured doses of oxytocin, while the rest were offered a placebo.

The participants then completed an emotion identification accuracy test in which they compared different facial expressions showing various emotional states. As expected, the test subjects who had taken oxytocin saw greater emotional intensity in the faces they were rating.

“For some, typical situations like dinner parties or job interviews can be a source of major social anxiety,” says Cardoso, the study’s lead author. “Many psychologists initially thought that oxytocin could be an easy fix in overcoming these worries. Our study proves that the hormone ramps up innate social reasoning skills, resulting in an emotional oversensitivity that can be detrimental in those who don’t have any serious social deficiencies.”

As Cardoso explains, “If your potential boss grimaces because she’s uncomfortable in her chair and you think she’s reacting negatively to what you’re saying, or if the guy you’re talking to at a party smiles to be friendly and you think he’s coming on to you, it can lead you to overreact — and that can be a real problem. That’s why we’re cautioning against giving oxytocin to people who don’t really need it.”

Ultimately, however, oxytocin does have the potential to help people with diagnosed disorders like autism to overcome social deficits.

But, says Cardoso, “The potential social benefits of oxytocin in most people may be countered by unintended negative consequences, like being too sensitive to emotional cues in everyday life.”

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!
Martin Luther King Jr. |  From The Mountaintop Speech (1968) at Mason Temple (Church of God in Christ Headquarters), Memphis, Tennessee. King would be assassinated a day later. He was in Memphis working with the I Am A Man campaign, an effort for economic justice of the city’s sanitation workers.     (via america-wakiewakie)
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