Research strongly suggests that sleep, which constitutes about a third of our lives, is crucial for learning and forming long-term memories. But exactly how such memory is formed is not well understood and remains, a central question of inquiry in neuroscience. Neuroscientists say they now may have an answer to this question in a new study that provides for the first time a mechanistic explanation for how deep sleep (also called slow-wave sleep) may be promoting the consolidation of recent memories.
A new study may have unlocked understanding of a mysterious part of the brain — with implications for neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. The results open up new areas of research in the pursuit of neuroprotective therapies.
Are the same regions and even the same cells of the brain area called hippocampus involved in encoding and retrieving memories or are different areas of this structure engaged? This question has kept neuroscientists busy for a long time. Researchers at the Mercator Research Group “Structure of Memory” at RUB have now found out that the same brain cells exhibit activity in both processes.
In biology, stability is important. From body temperature to blood pressure and sugar levels, our body ensures that these remain within reasonable limits and do not reach potentially damaging extremes. Neurons in the brain are no different and, in fact, have developed a number of ways to stabilise their electrical activity so as to avoid becoming either overexcitable, potentially leading to epilepsy, or not excitable enough, leading to non functional neurons.
Researchers studying how the brain makes decisions have, for the first time, recorded the moment-by-moment fluctuations in brain signals that occur when a monkey making free choices has a change of mind. The findings result from experiments led by electrical engineering Professor Krishna Shenoy, whose Stanford lab focuses on movement control and neural prostheses – such as artificial arms – controlled by the user’s brain.
Scientists in Japan have have discovered how nerve cells adjust to low energy environments during the brain’s growth process. Their study may one day help find treatments for nerve cell damage and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.