For the first time, working in rats, researchers have been able to strengthen old, faded memories by tweaking an enzyme in the brain.
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Usually, specific remembrances can only be altered as they are created in the brain. That’s why existing drugs used for memory enhancement, such as Ritalin, only help if taken while new memories are being formed.
A new report in the journal Science, however, reveals that an increase of PKMzeta, a protein that Discover Magazine calls the “engine of memory,” might actually help strengthen old memories — long after they’ve been formed.
The protein in question — PKMzeta — acts by strengthening the bond between neurons in the brain, creating a network of connections described as the “physical embodiment of our memories.
The findings not only give us a better understanding of how memory works, but could have the potential to further the development of treatments for Alzheimer’s and other memory diseases.