Do you feel like you can’t remember what happened long ago? Or is what you remember causing you problems, such as post-traumatic stress?
Researchers at a South Florida research facility are looking into these and other mind and body issues. Two of the most recent studies to be published by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute’s Florida campus in Jupiter look at memory and how it works at a very basic research level. These early findings could lead to better treatments for memory and other disorders.
The findings of one published study, announced Sept.10, suggests our brains are exquisitely adept at linking seemingly random details into a cohesive memory that can trigger good and bad associations.
Unwanted memories can be devastating for recovering addicts and people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Former meth addicts, for example, report intense drug cravings triggered by associations with cigarettes, money, even gum (used to relieve dry mouth), pushing them back into the addiction they so desperately want to leave.
In this new study, scientists were able to erase dangerous drug-associated memories in mice and rats without affecting other more benign memories, according to a Scripps’ press release.
“Our memories make us who we are, but some of these memories can make life very difficult,” says Courtney Miller, an associate professor at The Scripps Research Institute. “Not unlike in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, we’re looking for strategies to selectively eliminate evidence of past experiences related to drug abuse or a traumatic event. Our study shows we can do just that in mice — wipe out deeply engrained drug-related memories without harming other memories.”
In another new Scripps’ study, researchers have identified a group of proteins essential to the formation of long-term memories.
The study focuses on a family of proteins called “Wnts.” These proteins send signals from the outside to the inside of a cell, inducing a cellular response crucial for many aspects of normal brain development and functioning.
“By removing the function of three proteins in the Wnt signaling pathway, we produced a deficit in long-term but not short-term memory,” says Ron Davis, neuroscience chair at The Scripps Research Institute.
The resulting memory disruption, Davis said, suggests that Wnt signaling participates in the formation of long-term memory.
In other news….
Delray Medical Center surgeons are using a new technology in spine surgery called Mazor Robotics Renaissance. This minimally invasive robotic guidance system helps the surgeon pre-plan surgery in a CT-based 3-D simulation of the patient’s spine. During surgery, the technology guides the surgeon’s hand and the tools to the precise pre-planned location. This could lead to less pain and a faster recovery for spine surgery patients, according to a Delray Medical Center press release.
Delray Beach Medical Center is at 5352 Linton Blvd., Delray Beach, 33484; 561/498-4440; www.delraymedicalctr.com.