MIT researchers find a drug that helps erase traumatic memories in mice.
For years, neuroscientist Li-Huei Tsai has been unraveling the brain circuits that underlie memory, searching for approaches that might be helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease. In 2007, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist identified an experimental drug that could restore lost memories in mice. Lately, she has been wondering whether that kind of drug might be useful to help people forget traumatic events that cause fear and anxiety.
In a study published Thursday in the journal Cell, Tsai and colleagues used a single dose of the drug, called an HDAC inhibitor, to help mice extinguish a fearful memory of a traumatic event that took place in the distant past.
By Carolyn Y. Johnson / Globe Staff
A gene linked to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) actually alters individual brain cells’ ability to process information, researchers at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory report in the June 10 advance online edition of Nature Neuroscience.
The finding focuses on a faulty molecular mechanism that may underlie ASD’s cognitive impairments. The discovery could lead to future treatments targeting a brain enzyme that controls the formation of a neuronal structure called dendrites, according to lead author Li-Huei Tsai, Picower Professor of Neuroscience and director of the Picower Institute.
Dendrites are neurons’ spiky, branchlike projections. Dendrites at the apex of the cell body are known as apical; dendrites that emerge from the bottom are called basal. Basal dendrites, studded with synapses, receive electrical signals sent by other neurons within the brain.