Neurogenesis And Memory

Kaoru Inokuchi, a neuroscientist at the University of Toyama in Japan, and his team have shown that new brain cells in the hippocampus help clear away short term memories that have been passed along to long term storage.

It’s been known for a while that the hippocampus stores memories for a while then lets them go. Some memories make it into long term memory, some don’t. For a while, memories can be stored both in long term memory and the hippocampus.

Inokuchi and his colleagues suppressed neurogenesis in rats after inducing a “shock” memory. They found that the rats accessed hippocampal memory to remember the “shock” response. In contrast, rats with normal neurogenesis accessed long term memory for the shock response, indicating that neurogenesis had helped displace the “shock” memory from the hippocampus.

It had been previously theorized that neurogenesis helped form and consolidate memories in the hippocampus, but things now seem more complex.

“Our findings do not necessarily deny the important role of neurogenesis in memory acquisition,” Inokuchi says. “Hippocampal neurogenesis could have both of these roles, in erasing old memories and acquiring new memories.”

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