Navigation Links
Learning faster with neurodegenerative disease
Date:9/14/2012

People who bear the genetic mutation for Huntington's disease learn faster than healthy people. The more pronounced the mutation was, the more quickly they learned. This is reported by researchers from the Ruhr-Universitt Bochum and from Dortmund in the journal Current Biology. The team has thus demonstrated for the first time that neurodegenerative diseases can go hand in hand with increased learning efficiency. "It is possible that the same mechanisms that lead to the degenerative changes in the central nervous system also cause the considerably better learning efficiency" says Dr. Christian Beste, head of the Emmy Noether Junior Research Group "Neuronal Mechanisms of Action Control" at the RUB.

Passive learning through repeated stimulus presentation

In a previous study, the Bochum psychologists reported that the human sense of vision can be changed in the long term by repeatedly exposing subjects to certain visual stimuli for short periods (we reported in May 2011, http://aktuell.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/pm2011/pm00136.html.de). The task of the participants was to detect changes in the brightness of stimuli. They performed better if they had viewed the stimuli passively for a while first. In the current study, the researchers presented the same task to 29 subjects with the genetic mutation for Huntington's disease, who, however, did not yet show any symptoms. They also tested 45 control subjects without such mutations in the genome. In both groups, the learning efficiency was better after passive stimulus presentation than without the passive training. Subjects with the Huntington's mutation, however, increased their performance twice as fast as those without the mutation.

Glutamate may have paradoxical effect

Degenerative diseases of the nervous system are based on complex changes. A key mechanism is an increased release of the neurotransmitter glutamate. However, since glutamate is also important for learning, in some cases it could lead to the paradoxical effect: better learning efficiency despite degeneration of the nerve cells.

Detecting differences in brightness under aggravated conditions

In each experimental run, the subjects saw two consecutive small bars on a computer screen that either had the same or different brightness. Sometimes, however, not only the brightness changed from bar one to bar two, but also the orientation of the bar (vertical or horizontal). "Normally, the distraction stimulus, i.e. the change in orientation, draws all the attention" Christian Beste explains. "But after the passive training with the visual stimuli, the distraction stimulus has no effect at all." The shift of attention from the non-relevant to the relevant properties of the stimulus was also visible in the electroencephalogram (EEG) in brain areas for early visual processing.

Better performance with stronger mutation

In Huntington's disease, a short segment of a gene is repeated. The number of repetitions determines when the disease breaks out. In the present study, a greater number of repetitions was, however, also associated with higher learning efficiency. "This shows that neurodegenerative changes can cause paradoxical effects" says Christian Beste. "The everyday view that neurodegenerative changes fundamentally entail deterioration of various functions can no longer be maintained in this dogmatic form."


'/>"/>
Contact: Dr. Christian Beste
Christian.Beste@rub.de
49-234-322-4323
Ruhr-University Bochum
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Majority-biased learning
2. Awake mental replay of past experiences critical for learning
3. Dartmouth researchers are learning how exercise affects the brain
4. Songbirds learning hub in brain offers insight into motor control
5. New Genetics educational resource promotes active learning
6. New model gives hands-on help for learning the secrets of molecules
7. Oceans acidifying faster today than in past 300 million years
8. From scourge to saint: E. coli bacteria becomes a factory - to make cheaper, faster pharmaceuticals
9. Tiny electrical sensors could signal faster MRSA diagnosis
10. Athletic frogs have faster-changing genomes
11. What does a tree growing faster than its neighbor look like from outer space?
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/30/2017)... ARLINGTON, Va. , June 30, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ ... a leading developer and supplier of face and ... the ATA Featured Product provider program. ... created an innovative way to monitor a driver,s ... benefit greatly from being able to detect fatigue ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... , May 23, 2017  Hunova, the first robotic gym for the ... been officially launched in Genoa, Italy . The first ... and the USA . The technology was developed ... market by the IIT spin-off Movendo Technology thanks to a 10 million ... News Release, please click: ...
(Date:5/6/2017)... RAM Group , Singaporean based ... in biometric authentication based on a novel  ... to perform biometric authentication. These new sensors are based on ... Ram Group and its partners. This sensor will have ... and security. Ram Group is a next generation ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... CRUZ, Calif. , Oct. 10, 2017 ... grant from the NIH to develop RealSeq®-SC (Single Cell), ... kit for profiling small RNAs (including microRNAs) from single ... Analysis Program highlights the need to accelerate development of ... "New techniques for measuring ...
(Date:10/9/2017)...  BioTech Holdings announced today identification and patenting ... stem cell therapy prevents limb loss in animal ... that treatment with ProCell resulted in more than ... to standard bone marrow stem cell administration.  Interestingly, ... of therapeutic effect.  ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... , ... October 09, 2017 , ... ... four-tiered line of medical marijuana products targeting the needs of consumers who are ... of Kindred takes place in Phoenix, Arizona. , As operators of two successful ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... ProxiMeta™ Hi-C metagenome deconvolution product, featuring the first commercially available Hi-C kit. ... to perform Hi-C metagenome deconvolution using their own facilities, supplementing the company’s ...
Breaking Biology Technology: