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Hebrew University research on octopuses sheds light on memory
Date:6/17/2008

eas in the brain of the octopus. He blocked the ability of the brain to use LTP during learning by utilizing artificial LTP and though electrical stimulation.

When LTP was blocked with this technique shortly before training for a specific task, the experimental group of octopuses did not remember well the task when tested for long-term memory the day after training. Similar results were obtained when sensory information was prevented from getting into the learning and memory area by lesioning a specific connection in the brain. These findings therefore support the finding that LTP is indeed important for creating memories.

The fact that this was revealed in an invertebrate suggests that this process (LTP) is an efficient mechanism for mediation of learning and memory. The research results in the octopuses also shed new light on how memory systems are organized. Even if one accepts that LTP is important for learning and memory, however, Hochner stresses that further research will be required to understand how this cellular process is utilized in other animal or human brains for storing memories and how these memories are recollected.

The results can also have implications with respect to the organization of learning and memory systems, says Hochner. It is documented that memory processes can be divided into a short-term memory of minutes or a few hours and long-term memory that can store important events and facts for days or even our entire lifetime. Interestingly, notes Hochner, his results show that as in mammals, including humans, the short and long-term memory in the octopus are segregated into two separate systems, each in different locations in the brain.

It is not completely understood how these two systems are interconnected, if at all. However, the organization in the octopus demonstrates a sophistication that was not described yet in other animals. In the octopus, the short-term and long-term systems are working in parallel, but not i
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Contact: Jerry Barach
jerryb@savion.huji.ac.il
972-258-82904
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Source:Eurekalert  

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