A team of researchers has built a mathematical model that describes the molecular events associated with the beginning stage of learning and memory formation in the human brain.
The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, paves the way for understanding cognitive function and neurodegenerative diseases—at the molecular and cellular levels.
The study focuses on the dynamics of dendritic spines, which are thorny structures that allow neurons to communicate with each other. When a spine receives a signal from another neuron, it responds by rapidly expanding in volume—an event called transient spine expansion.
Transient spine expansion is one of the early events leading up to learning and memory formation. It consists of a cascade of molecular processes spanning four to five minutes, beginning when a neuron sends a signal to another neuron.
Many of the molecular processes leading up to transient spine expansion have already been identified experimentally and reported in the literature. Here, the authors built a map of many of these known processes into a computational framework.
“Spines are dynamic structures, changing in size, shape and number during development and aging. Spine dynamics have been implicated in memory, learning and various neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and autism. Understanding how the different molecules can affect spine dynamics can eventually help us demystify some of these processes in the brain,” said Padmini Rangamani, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of California San Diego and first author of the study.
“This work shows that dendritic spines, which are sub-micrometer compartments within individual neurons, are the prime candidates for the initial tag of transient, millisecond synaptic activity that eventually orchestrates memory traces in the brain lasting tens of years,” said Shahid Khan, senior scientist at the Molecular Biology Consortium at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a co-author on the PNAS paper.
In this study, researchers constructed a mathematical model, based on ordinary differential equations, linking the different molecular processes associated with spine expansion together. They identified the key components (molecules and enzymes) and chemical reactions that regulate spine expansion.
As a result, they observed an interesting pattern—that the same components could both turn on and off some of the steps in the sequence—a phenomenon called paradoxical signaling. Further, they linked the chemical reactions of the different molecules to the reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton, which gives the cell its shape.
Both of these features—paradoxical signaling and linking spine expansion to actin reorganization—make this model robust, Rangamani explained. “By putting all these complicated pieces together in a simple mathematical framework, we can start to understand the underlying mechanisms of spine expansion. This is one of the benefits of combining mechanics of the cytoskeleton and biochemistry. We can bring together pieces of experimental work that are often not seen. However, we should note that we are only at the beginning stages of understanding what spines, neurons and the brain can do.”
“This work is notable for bringing together aspects from diverse disciplines (systems biology, cell signaling, actin mechanobiology and proteomics) and should motivate similar multi-disciplinary efforts for other problems in fundamental cellular neuroscience,” Khan said.
The Latest on: Cognitive function
via Google News
The Latest on: Cognitive function
- Here's how coffee temporarily counteracts effect of sleep loss on cognitive functionon January 21, 2021 at 7:31 pm
A new study exploring the impact of repeated sleep loss during a simulated working week has found that consuming caffeinated coffee during the day helps to minimise reductions in attention and ...
- Study suggests coffee temporarily counteracts effect of sleep loss on cognitive functionon January 21, 2021 at 4:18 pm
A new study exploring the impact of repeated sleep loss during a simulated working week has found that consuming caffeinated coffee during the day helps to reduce impacts to people's vigilance, ...
- Cognitive decline due to ageing can be reversed in mice – here’s what the new study means for humanson January 21, 2021 at 7:27 am
It turns out that a major hallmark of the ageing process in many mammals is inflammation. By that, I don’t mean intense local response we typically associate with an infected wound, but a low grade, ...
- Cognitive Assessment and Training Market Size, Share, Segmentation, Analysis by Recent Trends, Development and Forecast to 2026on January 20, 2021 at 12:07 pm
The global cognitive assessment and training [CA&T] market is forecast to reach USD 28.37 Billion by 2026, according to a new report by Reports and Data. The market is predicted to witness a ...
- High Blood Pressure May Accelerate Cognitive Declineon January 20, 2021 at 7:34 am
High blood pressure may be an accelerant of cognitive decline in middle-aged and older adults, according to research published in .
- Global Cognitive Assessment & Training Market Report 2020-2026: Increasing Use of Smartphones and Tablets Makes Tests Easily Accessibleon January 20, 2021 at 6:30 am
The "Global Cognitive Assessment & Training Market By Component, By Application, By Organization Size, By End User, By Region, ...
- Global Cognitive Assessment & Training Market to 2026 by Component, Application, Organization Size, End User, Region - ResearchAndMarkets.comon January 19, 2021 at 10:03 pm
The “Global Cognitive Assessment & Training Market By Component, By Application, By Organization Size, By End User, By Region, Industry Analysis and Forecast, 2020 - 2026” report has been added to ...
- High Cognitive Performance at Age 100 and Beyondon January 18, 2021 at 6:23 am
Centenarians who were cognitively healthy maintained high levels of cognitive function over time despite being exposed to risk factors, including Alzheimer’s disease pathology, a prospective cohort ...
- Uncontrolled Hypertension May Contribute to Cognitive Deficits Over Timeon January 15, 2021 at 9:02 am
Patients diagnosed with hypertension in middle and older ages experience faster cognitive decline, especially those with uncontrolled hypertension.
via Bing News