The New Science of Forgetting

A baby zebrafish is just half the size of a pea. A recent look inside its transparent brain, however, offers clues to the far bigger mystery of how we remember—and how we forget. In an experiment that yielded insights into memory and the brain, a team of researchers at the University of Southern California taught the tiny creature to associate a bright light with a flash of heat, a temperature change the fish responded to by trying to swim away. Using a custom-designed microscope, the team then captured images of the animals’ brains in the moments before and after they learned to associate the light and the heat. It’s the first known look at how a living vertebrate’s brain restructures itself as the animal forms a memory. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Zhuowei Du The brain of a living zebrafish larva. The small green and white dots represent synaptic connections prior to the training exercise. In the image published with the team’s research, the event looks like a dissipating firework. A frenetic spattering of bright yellow dots represents new connections created between brain cells at the moment the memory formed. But the image also shows a second, parallel force at work in the animal’s brain as those connections are made. An overlapping sprinkle of bright blue dots indicates synaptic connections that disappeared at the same time the new ones formed, as if the components of earlier zebrafish memories were making way for the ...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Uncategorized feature healthscienceclimate Neuroscience Source Type: news