Joined: Oct. 2012
A couple of days ago I found this fascinating RNA related information in the Reddit neuroscience forums. It's in a long article where most readers may have missed the best part, but I none the less waited for indication of being total garbage before mentioning it in this forum and at Sandwalk. If even only half of it is true then this will be a scientific breakthrough for the theory I'm still developing.
|When the researchers caused amnesia with a drug, that newly formed synaptic muscle went away. “We wiped out the LTP, completely wiped it out,” says neuroscientist Tomás Ryan, who conducted the study in Tonegawa’s lab and reported the results with Tonegawa and colleagues in 2015 in Science.|
And yet the memory wasn’t lost. With laser light, the researchers could still activate the engram cells — and the memory they somehow still held. That means that the memory was stored in something that isn’t related to the strength of the synapses.
The surprising results suggest that researchers may have been sidetracked, focusing too hard on synaptic strength as a memory storage system, says Ryan, now at Trinity College Dublin. “That approach has produced about 12,000 or so papers on the topic, but it hasn’t been very successful in explaining how memory works.”
Back in the 1950s, McConnell suspected that RNA, cellular material that can help carry out genetic instructions but can also carry information itself, might somehow store memories.
This unorthodox idea, that RNA is involved in memory storage, has at least one modern-day supporter in Glanzman, who plans to present preliminary data at a meeting in April that suggest injections of RNA can transfer memory between sea slugs.
Glanzman thinks that RNA is a temporary storage vessel for memories, though. The real engram, he suggests, is the folding pattern of DNA in cells’ nuclei. Changes to how tightly DNA is packed can govern how genes are deployed. Those changes, part of what’s known as the epigenetic code, can be made — and even transferred — by roving RNA molecules, Glanzman argues. He is quick to point out that his idea, memory transfer by RNA, is radical. “I don’t think you could find another card-carrying Ph.D. neuroscientist who believes that.”
Other researchers, including neurobiologist David Sweatt of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, also suspect that long-lasting epigenetic changes to DNA hold memories, an idea Sweatt has been pursuing for 20 years. Because epigenetic changes can be stable, “they possess the unique attribute necessary to contribute to the engram,” he says.
And still more engram ideas abound. Some results suggest that a protein called PKM-zeta, which helps keep synapses strong, preserves memories. Other evidence suggests a role for structures called perineuronal nets, rigid sheaths that wrap around neurons. Holes in these nets allow synapses to peek through, solidifying memories, the reasoning goes (SN: 11/14/15, p. 8). A different line of research focuses on proteins that incite others to misfold and aggregate around synapses, strengthening memories. Levin, at Tufts, has his own take. He thinks that bioelectrical signals, detected by voltage-sensing proteins on the outside of cells, can store memories, though he has no evidence yet.
And Larry may have stumbled over something:
The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.