An international team is coming up with the pill which could make memories stick, in a study that will not only help students revising for exams but also patients with dementia or other brain disorders.
In their study, the scientists discovered that fatty foods not only send feelings of fullness to the brain but they also trigger a process that consolidates long term memories. Now, the team, led by California University, hope to develop drugs which mimic the effect of fat and rich foods to boost memory in those suffering from brain disorders or who need to cement the facts in their brain.
In fact, they found that oleic acids from fats are transformed into a compound called oleoylethanolamide (OEA) in the upper region of the small intestine. OEA not only send hunger-curbing messages to the brain but “causes memory consolidation, the process by which superficial, short-term memories are transformed into meaningful, long-term ones”, according to the scientists.
Daniele Piomelli, who led the team, said the pill works by activating memory-enhancing signals in amygdala — the part of the brain involved in the consolidation of memories of the emotional events. “Remembering the location and context of a fatty meal was probably an important survival mechanism for early humans. It makes sense that mammals have this capability.
“OEA is part of the molecular glue that makes memories stick. By helping mammals remember where and when they have eaten a fatty meal, OEA’s memory-enhancing activity seems to have been an important evolutionary tool for early humans and other mammals,” the Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying.
The study found administering OEA to laboratory rodents improved the memory retention in two tests. When cell receptors activated by OEA were blocked, memory retention effects decreased. Piomelli said drugs that mimic OEA are currently in clinical trials.
Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust said the research offered “fascinating” insights into the way we remember. “When thinking about what constitutes a healthy diet, usually what’s good for the heart is also good for the head. Better understanding of how memories are formed could lead to new treatments that help the brain when it becomes affected by Alzheimer’s.”
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Sources: The Times Of India
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