A drug that can make your old memories like new

Illustration for article titled A drug that can make your old memories like new

There are drugs that help you remember what you learn, and ones that erase your memory. But until now, there have no substances with the power to enhance and strengthen old memories hovering on the brink of being forgotten. Now a group of neuroscientsts say they've isolated a single enzyme in the brain that can help long-term memories remain crisp in your mind.

Image by Sebastian Kaulitzki/Shutterstock

Reut Shema and her colleagues knew that the enzyme PKMzeta helped maintain the long-term storage of memories in the brain. But recently they discovered that boosting levels of PKMzeta helped rats recall, in great detail, events they'd experienced many days beforehand. Lowering levels of the enzyme caused the rats to forget old memories more quickly. What's remarkable about this discovery is that the enzyme can help the animals recall these old memories even if they weren't boosting their levels of PKMzeta at the time the memories were formed.


A release about the study, published today in Science, explains:

Shema and colleagues now show that overexpressing the enzyme in the insular cortex region of the rat brain can strengthen more than one memory at a time and improve memories that were established months before the enzyme experiment.

If the same treatment works for humans, we could be looking at a way to deal with age-related memory loss. And a way to help us recall information we once knew intimately, but which has grown cloudy as the years have passed.

You can read the authors' full account of their experiments and how the enzyme works, in Science.


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Corpore Metal

I'll stick with a digital life recorder thanks.

Digital storage is getting so cheap and so huge that I should be able wear a small camera and mic on my glasses and record everything I see and hear for next century and not even fill up a storage device like a HDD. The only problem will be writing pattern matching software to allow me to quickly search through such a huge amount of data.

And of course I'd have to encrypt this data for personal privacy and so on.