September 17, 2012
Sliced rat brains provide insight into how memories work
By Thane Burnett, QMI Agency
You can slice it. You can dice it.
But don't think that's the end to your brainpower.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, have managed to ignite patterns of activity in cut sections of brain tissue.
The bits were slices of the hippocampus of rats, but the brainwave patterns the scientists measured were much the same as blips of memory.
The research, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, progresses the understanding of how the brain can store and retrieve information through a vast network of nerve cells.
Robert Hyde and Ben Strowbridge placed slices of brain tissue on a Petri dish and managed to fire them up with electrodes along four pathways to alter individual neurons.
And the slices remained active for up to 15 seconds — acting much like working memory.
The work paves the way for research into the specific brain circuits that enable us to form short-term declarative memories, such as when we try to remember an e-mail address or new word after hearing it. And that could one day help Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease patients.