By Karis Tutuska
Image Acquired from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internexin#/media/File:Microglia_and_neurons.jpg
Figure Caption: Neurons predisposed to joining networks that take place in learning may provide a visual of the memory mechanism
Have you ever wondered what memories look like? A group of neuroscientists at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science have captured a visual of the memory mechanism by studying the swim motor program of Tritonia, a genus of sea slugs, with voltage-sensitive dye imaging. In an earlier study, researchers discovered neurons whose participation in specific neuron networks varies moment by moment. At certain moments, the neurons participate in a given neuron network, and at other moments they do not. Researchers could not figure out why such a neuron would exist, until now.
The neuroscientists at Rosalind Franklin found that these non-committal neurons are predisposed to joining neural networks that take place in learning. These findings may explain how the brain rapidly builds memories. The researchers identified that when memories faded, many of the neurons remained in the network, suggesting the presence of latent memory. Knowing how these neurons work could provide huge advances in treating memory loss after brain damage.
S.Evan, et al. Watching a memory form: sea slug reveals novel memory mechanism. Current Biology. 25, 2879–2888 (2015), doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.09.033