Brain Slices Show That Stress Messes Up Your Memory

A study in an in vitro system has shown that stress interferes with the development of new synapses required for new memories to form.

AsianScientist (Apr. 20, 2016) – A group of researchers at Osaka University have found evidence that stress blocks the formation of new memories. Their research has been published in Scientific Reports.

The team, led by Associate Professor Keiko Tominaga-Yoshino and Professor Akihiko Ogura at the Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences had previously found that repeated stimulation of organotypic slice cultures of the cerebral cortex formed new synapses. They also explained the mechanism of synapse formation, which is also observed in the repetition-dependent memory consolidation process.

In this research, the group showed that synapse formation is inhibited by the reproduction of stress known to cause memory defects.

Humans and animals have innate self-protecting mechanisms for alleviating stress. This is why it was difficult to determine if the results of animal experiments were affected by the stress applied by experimenters or by the effects from animals’ homeostatic response. Therefore, some conflicting results had been reported.

Instead, the researchers developed an in vitro system, allowing the experimental effects to be directly examined. To do this, they used organotypic slice cultures of the cerebral cortex. As cultures can be maintained for a long period, it is possible to examine long-term effects. This group’s achievement will be useful for developing therapeutic methods for and preventive measures against stress-induced memory defects.

The authors also predict that the organotypic slice cultures will be helpful for the development of drugs or treatments that reduce stress-related brain defects.

The article can be found at: Saito et al. (2016) An in vitro Reproduction of Stress-Induced Memory Defects: Effects of Corticoids on Dendritic Spine Dynamics.


Source: Osaka University.
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