Study: Sea Snails May Aid In Identifying Means To Improve Memory

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Many people currently have suffered from different brain-related conditions, like stroke, traumatic brain injury, and congenital cognitive impairments. Together with aging, these conditions can lead to cognitive impairments. In a very recent study, researchers utilized the sea snail Aplysia californi; its brain has many similarities with humans and other species. The study entails the snail’s contribution to further explore learning and memory.

The neuroscientists from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) made use of this animal model in their aim to try a novel learning approach which can help in enhancing memory. The findings were promising, which can potentially be beneficial to those suffering from impairments. The research can be found in the Nature Neuroscience website, dated December 25. Moreover, further steps will include tests of other animal species and in time, humans.

The technique was utilized to determine the moments when brain was prepared for learning that further made the learning sessions’ scheduling convenient in these peak periods. It led to an observed remarkable memory increase. Furthermore, John H. “Jack Byrne, PhD, senior author and the UTHealth Medical School- Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy’s chair, stated that they discovered that memory can be improved substantially.

Based from a previous study relating certain proteins to memory, the investigators from the UTHealth designed a mathematical model which can cue researchers the time in which these proteins’ activity is parallel to the best learning experience. Currently, the learning sessions’ scheduling is through trial and error, as well as a bit random. The model can be utilized in determining the periods when learning potential is best, if it can be proven efficient in the next studies.

Byrne elaborated that you are beginning various chemical reactions when a training session is given. Consequently, you will obtain more outcomes when you give another session. He emphasized that the aim is to get the sessions in sync. He added that in order to turn the sessions to the biochemical processes’ dynamics, they formulated a technique.

Five learning sessions were given to 2 groups of snails. The first group was given the sessions at uneven intervals, based on the mathematical model’s prediction, while the other group was given the sessions in 20-minute regular intervals. Five days after the sessions, a notable augment in memory was observed in the group trained using the schedule predicted by the model; on the other hand, among the group trained with a regular 20-minute intervals, an augment was not noted. Also, 10, 000 various permutations were sorted by the computer so that a schedule that could improve memory would be identified.

Additionally, Byrne articulated that researchers made an analysis of the brain nerve cells of the snails to verify their findings. They learned that there was more activity among those that followed the enhanced training schedule. Indeed, as Byrne said, this research presented the practicability of utilizing computational approaches in aiding the development of training schedules, which improve learning and memory.

 

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