Next steps include studying the relationship between PKM and the synapses and how the structure of synapses changes when PKM is inhibited.
"That is going to tell us how long-term memories are maintained," Glanzman said. "This is the first step. The more we know about how long-term memory is induced in the brain and how our memories are maintained in the brain, the more we are going to be able to treat long-term memory loss."
The experiments are very difficult, and Glanzman praised co-authors Cai, Pearce and Chen as "unbelievably skilled."
For 28 years, Glanzman has studied learning and memory in the marine snail, which is substantially larger than its garden variety counterpart and has approximately 20,000 neurons in its central nervous system; humans have approximately 1 trillion. However, the cellular and molecular processes seem to be very similar between the marine snail and humans.
"The fundamental mechanisms of learning and memory are identical, as far as we can tell," Glanzman said.
Glanzman's research is funded by a Senator Jacob Javits Award in the Neurosciences from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and by the National Institute of Mental Health.
The marine snail processes information about its environment and is capable of learning when an environment is safe and when it is not, learning to escape from predators, and learning to identify food. The marine snail is native to California, living in tidal waters off the coast.
Glanzman is also studying learning at the synaptic level in the zebra fish.
In earlier research, Glanzman's team identified a cellular mechanism in the Aplysia that plays an important ro
|Contact: Stuart Wolpert|
University of California - Los Angeles