Join CafeMom Today! Autism Spectrum Disorder: Treatments: A Mechanism To Improve Learning And Memory

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Mechanism To Improve Learning And Memory

A Mechanism To Improve Learning And Memory: "This process, known as synaptic plasticity, has been proposed as the cellular basis for learning and memory. Indeed, alterations in synaptic plasticity mechanisms are thought to be responsible for multiple cognitive deficits, such as autism, Alzheimer's disease and several forms of mental retardation.

The study by Knafo et al. provides new information on the molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity, and how this process may be manipulated to improve cognitive performance. They find that synapses can be made more plastic by using a small protein fragment (peptide) derived from a neuronal protein involved in cell-to-cell communication. This peptide (called FGL) initiates a cascade of events inside the neuron that results in the facilitation of synaptic plasticity. Specifically, the authors found that FGL triggers the insertion of new neurotransmitter receptors into synapses in a region of the brain called the hippocampus, which is known to be involved in multiple forms of learning and memory. Importantly, when this peptide was administered to rats, their ability to learn and retain spatial information was enhanced. "

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