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The hormone of darkness: melatonin could hurt memory formation at night
Date:11/15/2007

nclude fighting free radical damage to slow some forms of neurodegeneration, such as in Parkinsons and Alzheimers diseases, and stopping DNA damage, which has potential to act as a preventative against cancer. And, since the positive antioxidant effect is direct and independent of receptor signaling, there is hope that removing the melatonin receptor signaling will combat only this hormones negative effects on cognitive function.

Additionally, Roman said that inhibiting melatonin signaling with receptor antagonists may help with a large number of nighttime cognitive tasks, helping such people as students studying for finals, airplane pilots, ER physicians and night-shift workers. Roman also thinks that a natural role of melatonin may be to facilitate the storage of memories made during the day and that more studies are required to understand the ultimate role melatonin has in memory formation.

The value of melatonin as a supplement is largely due to its antioxidant properties, Roman said. The use of melatonin receptor antagonists will not affect this attribute, but may alleviate an important side effect on nighttime cognitive function.

In other words, a best of both worlds scenario could result, taking advantage of melatonins antioxidant benefits while improving nighttime memory formation that is now inhibited by it.

Romans team at UH for this breakthrough study includes Gregory M. Cahill, associate professor of biology and biochemistry, and two of their students and research assistants, Oliver Rawashdeh and Nancy Hernandez de Borsetti.


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Contact: Lisa Merkl
lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192
University of Houston  
Source:Eurekalert

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