Research detect slowing down certain brain cells that improve learning

on 21 August 2018
sometimes you just need a good idea

Scientists discover a particular cell/neuron related to learning and memory. When over-activated learning declined and when under-activated learning/memory improved. Could we liken over-activated to stressed and under-activated to relaxation? I think so . . . . . . . . . . .

It has long been known that stress affects certain aspects of memory, be it the creation of new memories, or just better and more lasting working memory. However, it also affects memory recall, at no time is that more apparent when we are faced with rapid and extensive memory recall, especially while under pressure or duress. The classic example of this is what we call test or exam anxiety. We know the answer and we know we know it; we just can't seem to access it but why?

The reason is the activation of the fight or flight response, more commonly called "stress response" Stress hormones affect brain function, specifically the hippocampus (adrenaline) and the prefrontal cortex (cortisol). Both of these areas are also at play when we are in defence mode. The brain, it seems, has more important things to focus on! So, it is interesting to note that this study noticed a decline in memory function when they activated the OLM (Oriens-lacunosum moleculare) cells and an improvement when they deactivated. Basically, activation means excitement (and possibly more glutamate production) and deactivation means inhibition (possibly GABA production), just a summation?

The important thing, relating to hypnotherapy, is that the brain is predominantly in a relaxed state during hypnosis and it seems perfectly logical, that this relaxed state is somehow, synonymous with a new level of memory that elicits changes in the way certain cells fire. All neurons fire, in part, as a consequence of their reaction to sensory and environmental factors. The motivational cause of this reaction is partially determined by the memory contained within each cell.

Nobody, I believe, would be surprised to learn that the more relaxed we are, the better our brain functions. True, it functions extremely well in certain stressful and highly important situations. However, it is the average ambient level of daily peaceful states of relaxation that ultimately have an impact on the efficacy and durability of how well we function while under duress. In essence, the more rested and relaxed our brain is, at any given point, the better it performs when the going gets tough!

Conclusion: Want to have a better memory for longer, want to learn more and do more as a result; then learn to relax on demand.      

My objective here is to help people understand how and why we become illogically trapped into emotional experiences that may actually be happening but for reasons different to that which we would imagine! If you want to know more about how Hypnotherapy can help you; why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation?

For more information on the Free Consultation - Go Here - Or - to book your Free Consultation today, you can do so here

The Research: 

The workings of memory and learning have yet to be clarified, especially at the neural circuitry level. But researchers at Uppsala University have now, jointly with Brazilian collaborators, discovered a specific brain neuron with a central role in learning. This study, published in Neuron, may have a bearing on the potential for counteracting memory loss in Alzheimer's disease.

When a person with dementia forgets having just eaten dinner, it is due to hippocampus damage. In contrast, the same person can describe in vivid detail a fishing trip to Norway 40 years ago. Both cases entail the use of episodic memory, the brain's storage of events in which we have been personally involved. Dementia diseases impair the ability to form new memories, especially of events since the onset of the disease.

Researchers at Uppsala University have now, jointly with Brazilian colleagues, found certain neurons in the brain that play a crucial part in learning. The same research group had previously discovered 'gatekeeper cells' or, in technical parlance, OLM (Oriens-lacunosum moleculare) cells. These are located in the hippocampus, the brain area known to be active in forming new memories. The new findings from Klas Kullander's research group show that OLM cells' activity affects the encoding of memories in the brain.

When the OLM cells were over-activated in experiments on laboratory mice, the mice's memory and learning functions deteriorated. When these cells were inactivated instead, the function of new memory formation improved. This research has enhanced understanding of how a single component in the memory circuits can affect memory formation.

"We had expected to be able to impair learning since it seemed likely that the effect of our experiment at the cellular level would disturb the normal function of the nervous system. However, we were surprised to find that learning and memory also could be improved," says Klas Kullander.

It also offers hope of being able to counteract the loss of memory formation in Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The first symptoms of Alzheimer's, the most common and familiar dementia disease, are associated with poor memory. Short-term memory is particularly impaired. For those who suffer from dementia symptoms, losing memory functions is a major everyday problem. Unfortunately, there are no curative treatments or medicines that can stop dementia diseases from developing.

"The next step is, therefore, to investigate this more closely, in further experiments on animal subjects comparable to humans. We need more knowledge before experiments can be done to stimulate the OLM cell artificially in humans," Kullander says.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Uppsala UniversityNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Samer Siwani, Arthur S.C. França, Sanja Mikulovic, Amilcar Reis, Markus M. Hilscher, Steven J. Edwards, Richardson N. Leão, Adriano B.L. Tort, Klas Kullander. OLMα2 Cells Bidirectionally Modulate LearningNeuron, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.06.022