Navigation Links
UT Southwestern researchers reveal how the brain processes important information
Date:4/2/2009

DALLAS April 2, 2009 Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have shed light on how the neurotransmitter dopamine helps brain cells process important information.

Researchers found in a study of mouse cells that this neurotransmitter, one of the molecules used by nerve cells to communicate with one another, causes certain brain cells to become more flexible and changes brain-cell circuitry to process important information differently than mundane information.

"This can help one remember a new, important episode as distinct from any other episode, such as remembering where you parked your car today versus yesterday," said Dr. Robert Greene, professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study published in the March 11 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

"If we can one day manipulate the way that salient information is processed, we might be able to not only improve learning, but also improve the learning needed to extinguish severe fear responsiveness, such as when a soldier can't forget emotional war memories associated with post-traumatic stress disorder," he said.

Dr. Greene said the research also could have implications for addictions and schizophrenia, because those conditions are associated with alterations in dopamine in the brain.

Researchers have known that dopamine is released in the brain in association with experiencing "important" events and remembering salient acts, such as learning to avoid a hot stove or that a good grade is rewarded. The current research focused on how dopamine operates on the cells associated with this type of memory formation.

Dr. Greene, director of the National Clozapine Coordinating Center at the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and his research team isolated slices of the hippocampus region of the animals' brains and then electrically stimulated the cells. To simulate what happens in the brain in response to a memory-worthy event, they then exposed the cells to a selective dopamine-like neurotransmitter agent and repeated the stimulation. By comparing the effects of the stimulation with and without the dopamine agent, they could identify changes in NMDA receptor responses. NMDA receptors are proteins that mediate synaptic plasticity when activated.

"The NMDA responses changed to increase the cells' plasticity, and we think that this facilitates learning and memory," Dr. Greene said.

In addition, the changes in NMDA responses to dopamine agents changed the functional circuitry of the cells. These changes made the cells more responsive to electrical impulses coming from an indirect route through three processing "stations" before they reached the output region of the hippocampus. Without the presence of dopamine, Dr. Greene said, the cells tend to respond instead to impulses traveling by a route that is more direct and requires less processing. Information sent by this direct route may reflect what is already known and is less likely to change the animal's behavior.

"While the current study involved isolated mouse brain tissue containing the memory circuits, the human brain likely works the same way," Dr. Greene said. "You don't want to have interference from yesterday. You need to know where you parked your car today, and dopamine may help to ensure that information from today will be remembered as distinct from yesterday."

The researchers next will study how dopamine modulation affects learning and memory-related behavior and will investigate further exactly how dopamine acts on cells and their circuits.


'/>"/>

Contact: LaKisha Ladson
lakisha.ladson@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Single-incision belly-button surgery to remove kidney performed first at UT Southwestern
2. UT Southwesterns obesity research receives $22 million NIH Roadmap grant
3. UT Southwestern scientist receives NIH Directors New Innovator Award
4. UT Southwestern investigating hypothermic technique in treating pediatric head injuries
5. 2 UT Southwestern researchers elected to National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine
6. UT Southwestern researcher named Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator
7. UT Southwestern urologist uses Botox to treat debilitating condition
8. Physicians seek to improve the quality of sleep in ICU, researchers at UT Southwestern report
9. UT Southwestern: Patients with mild Cushing syndrome may benefit from adrenalectomy
10. BMI criteria for obesity surgery should be lowered, UT Southwestern researchers suggest
11. UT Southwestern plastic surgeons deploy new carbon dioxide-based fractional laser
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
UT Southwestern researchers reveal how the brain processes important information
(Date:6/26/2016)... Orion, Clarkston, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... June 26, ... ... with respect to fertility once they have been diagnosed with endometriosis. These women ... intercourse but they also require a comprehensive approach that can help for preservation ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... "With 30 hand-drawn hand gesture animations, FCPX ... Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProHand Cartoon’s package transforms over ... Cut Pro X . Simply select a ProHand generator and drag it above media ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... On Friday, ... presented a Bronze Wellness at Work award to iHire in recognition of their exemplary ... part of the 7th annual Maryland Workplace Health & Wellness Symposium at the BWI ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... June 19, 2016 is World Sickle Cell Observance ... and the benefits of holistic treatments, Serenity Recovery Center of Marne, Michigan, ... Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a disorder of the red blood cells, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... micro-osteoperforation for accelerated orthodontic treatment. Dr. Cheng has extensive experience with all areas ... , AcceleDent, and accelerated osteogenic orthodontics. , Micro-osteoperforation is a revolutionary adjunct ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... Oticon , industry leaders in advanced ... launch of Oticon Opn ™, the world,s first ... of possibilities for IoT devices.      (Photo: ... Oticon introduces a number of ,world firsts,: ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 The vast majority of ... dialysis facility.  Treatments are usually 3 times a week, ... visit, including travel time, equipment preparation and wait time. ... especially grueling for patients who are elderly and frail.  ... nursing and rehabilitation centers for some duration of time. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  Experian Health, ... and transforming the patient payment and care ... innovative new products and services that will ... revenue cycle offerings. These award-winning solutions will ... workflows, remain compliant in an ever-changing environment ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: