Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Lasting Memory

How fruit flies remember a rewarding smell - implications for human memory and mental health

24 January 2019

Lasting Memory

You probably have countless precious childhood memories, but can barely remember what you had for lunch last Tuesday. That’s because long and short term memories form in our brain in very different ways. Creating long term memories involves creating new proteins, such as CrebB. To understand where and when CrebB does its work in both humans and other animals, researchers genetically modified fruit flies so they could deactivate it in certain areas of the brain. They found that for the flies to remember a particular smell linked to a sugary reward, CrebB, stained red in the fly brain pictured, only needed to be active in specific regions and cells. In humans, defects in CrebB are linked to intellectual disability, addiction and depression, so as well as untangling one more layer in the complex web of memory mechanisms, this work might provide a new tool for studying mental health.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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