Alzheimer’s is a disease that damages the mental faculties of the person who suffers from it, causing them to lose all awareness of their environment and the abilities to carry out even the simplest tasks.
Many have been the investigations carried out by experts and scientists in an attempt to fully understand how acts and how to counteract its effects.
One of them has now been carried out by researchers from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), who managed to discover a new course of action taken by the disease in regard to memory impairment. But this does not end here, since, in addition to this, the researchers also discovered a way to reverse its effects in laboratory mice.
In this sense, the research carried out showed that the neurons encoded with the existing memories were being suppressed by the noise coming from the neurons in charge of encoding the new experiences, which, once silenced, allowed the mice to recover the lost memories. .
To understand this, it is necessary to understand the role played by the hippocampus, which refers to a region of the brain responsible for converting experiences into memories through the construction of neural networks where information is stored.
The moment the person remembers a particular situation, these neural networks are activated and the stored memory is presented. However, when Alzheimer’s manifests, one of the first regions of the brain to be attacked by it is the hippocampus, resulting in family memory loss and disorientation for the affected person.
A new approach
And it is that in the past it was believed that the disease focused on attacking the neurons that contained memories, avoiding their activation when their intervention was required. However, in tests applied to mice with models of Alzheimer’s disease, the team of researchers found that there are neurons with memories exhibiting activity, a situation that led the researchers to deduce that the problem to evoke stored memories was manifesting itself at a higher level. .
The researchers used two groups of mice to conduct their study: one healthy and one with a condition similar to Alzheimer’s. They set out to use an in vivo two-photon microscope to appreciate the activity generated in neurons in the brains of these mice as they explored a new environment.
After a few days, the mice of both groups were placed in the environment for the second time, showing a notable difference in behavior, where the healthy mice distinguished the space, while the diseased mice chose to explore it as if they had been placed there for the first time.
Added to this, the researchers found differences in the neuronal activity of the mice, being able to verify that those with the Alzheimer’s-like condition were remembering the previous experience, but the signal generated by this action was being interfered with by that of other neurons that interpreted the disease. experience as novel.
Why is this happening? The reason is that the experience-coding neurons modify the signals of the memory-containing neurons, superimposing it with their own. Regarding this, the principal investigator of the study, Martin Fuhrmann expressed the following:
It is like a noisy television signal: the picture becomes fuzzy and distorted; you can even see pixels or stripes. Something similar happened inside the brains of the mice: The interfering signals suppressed their memories. This disturbance is obviously the result of pathological changes in the brain.
At the time of going into detail, the researchers set out to exert control over these neurons in both groups of mice. It was thus that through a technique called chemigenetics, the researchers were able to carry out the design of new experience-coding neurons so that they would react to the presence of a certain molecule.
Once this was achieved, the researchers were able to turn on the noisy neurons in healthy mice and deactivate them in mice with the Alzheimer’s-like condition.
If you want to know more details about the investigation, you can find it in English by clicking HERE