Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 8th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Light Bulb Moment
14 June 2016

Light Bulb Moment

Memory is lost in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). A versatile technique called optogenetics has now been used to explore this. Brain cells are modified to contain a light receptor together with a fluorescent protein. When light is focussed on these cells they become active and fluoresce at the same time. Memory loss in early AD was shown to be a result of problematic memory access, and not because of issues with forming and storing memories. The group tested the memory of mouse models of AD before and after shining light on their brains to 'turn on' engram cells (shown in green). These particular cells are responsible for memory retrieval. After engram cell activation, AD mice had better memory than before. The study also found that strengthening the communication between these cells and others in different areas of the brain is key to good memory retrieval.

Written by Katerina Papadopoulou

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.