Memory Loss Reversed in Animals

by Malc on April 10, 2012

A female Mediterranean fruit-fly (Ceratitis ca...

Fruit flies lend themselves to valuable medical research, not least because a surprisingly high proportion of their genes exist also in the human genome. In other words genetically, we are very like fruit flies.

As they age, fruit flies show loss of memory in a similar way to aging humans. This can be easily tested. In this study the scientists identified the neurons (nerve cells) causing the loss of memory through a process called: “functional cellular imaging”. The surprise result of the study was that simple stimulation of these neurons reversed the aging.

Ron Davis, the chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Scripps, Florida, said: “We are able to peer down into the fly brain and see changes… that appear to reflect how intermediate-term memory is encoded in these neurons.”

The memories stored in the neurons were successfully restored by simple microscopic-level stimulation by either heat or cold; both worked.

This research has massive implications for the treatment of memory loss in humans which is associated with aging. Bearing in mind the backdrop of nanotechnology (which is developing at pace), genetics (the cost of which is plummeting) and computerization (the power of which is continuing to double every 18 months) research such as this can be leveraged to produce good results for humans – probably within the decade.

Science Daily article:

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