Research: Cells Compensate for Memory Loss

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 3 (UPI) — When regions of the human brain involved in memory are damaged, other areas can step in and compensate, a U.S. study says.

Many neuroscientists believe damage to the brain region known as the amygdala would result in an inability to form new memories with emotional content, but research at UCLA suggests other regions of the brain can take up the task, a university release said Monday.


“Our findings show that when the amygdala is not available, another brain region called the bed nuclei can compensate for the loss of the amygdala,” UCLA professor of psychology Michael Fanselow said.

“The bed nuclei are much slower at learning, and form memories only when the amygdala is not learning,” he said.

“However, when you do not have an amygdala, if you have an emotional experience, it is like neural plasticity (the memory-forming ability of brain cells) and the bed nuclei spring into action.”

“Normally, it is as if the amygdala says, ‘I’m doing my job, so you shouldn’t learn.’ With the amygdala gone, the bed nuclei do not receive that signal and are freed to learn,” Fanselow said.

“Our results suggest some optimism that when a particular brain region that is thought to be essential for a function is lost, other brain regions suddenly are freed to take on the task,” Fanselow said.

“If we can find ways of promoting this compensation, then we may be in a better position to help patients who have lost memory function due to brain damage, such as those who have had a stroke or have Alzheimer’s disease.”

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