Scientists link more than 100 genes to memory

Posted Jun 1 2017 in Brain science; genetics

A US study has identified over 100 genes linked to memory, which will help scientists better understand memory function and develop new strategies to treat memory impairment. The findings are published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

These results are particularly relevant to people with epilepsy, whose lives are often significantly affected by memory problems.

The research expanded on previous work by Dr Genevieve Konopka, at the Peter O’Donnell Jr Brain Institute in Dallas, which linked specific genes to resting-state brain behaviour. She wanted to use the same methods to evaluate brain activity during active information processing.

In order to achieve this, she collaborated with colleague Dr Bradley Lega, whose research involves mapping the brain activity of people with epilepsy to identify their seizure source and understand what brain type of brain waves are needed for successful memory formation.

Combining their techniques, the researchers discovered that the genes used in memory processing are different to those involved when the brain is in a resting state. A number of the genes had not previously been linked to any brain process.

Dr Konopka comments: “Our results have provided a lot of new entry points into understanding human memory.”

“Many of these genes were not previously linked to memory, but now any number of labs could study them and understand their basic function in the brain.”

Dr Lega is hopeful that the findings will enable researchers to better understand and treat a range of disorders that involve memory impairment, including epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.

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