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UF researchers find drug therapy that could eventually reverse memory decline in seniors
Date:3/5/2014

eryday activities such as calculating your final bill at the end of dining at a restaurant. Most people can calculate a 15 percent tip and add it to the cost of their meal without pencil and paper. Central to this process is the ability to keep multiple pieces of information in mind for a short duration such as remembering the cost of your dinner while calculating the amount needed for the tip.

"Almost all higher cognitive processes depend on this fundamental operation," Bizon said.

To determine the culprit behind working memory decline, the researchers tested the memory of young and aged rats in a "Skinner box." In the Skinner box, rats had to remember the location of a lever for short periods of up to 30 seconds. The scientists found that while both young and old rats could remember the location of the lever for brief periods of time, as those time periods lengthened, old rats had more difficulty remembering the location of the lever than young rats.

But not all older rats did poorly on the memory test, just as not all older adults have memory problems. The study shows the older brains of some people or rats with no memory problems might compensate for the overactive inhibitory system they are able to produce fewer GABA receptors and therefore bind less of the inhibitory chemical.

Older rats with memory problems had more GABA receptors. The drug the researchers tested blocked GABA receptors, mimicking the lower number of those receptors that some older rats had naturally and restoring working memory in aged rats to the level of younger rats.

"Modern medicine has done a terrific job of keeping us alive for longer, and now we have to keep up and determine how to maximize the quality of life for seniors," Bizon said. "A key aspect of that is going to be developing strategies and therapies that can maintain and improve cognitive health."


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Contact: Morgan Sherburne
msherburne@ufl.edu
352-273-6160
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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