Don’t Blame Yourself: Your Memory Depends on Genes, Not Effort
A new study has shown that genetics determine the function of hippocampal neurons.
The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. But how do genetic factors affect how neurons in the hippocampus work? Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) tried to answer this question using machine learning and neurogenetics.
Neurons in a key region of the brain have different functions based on their exact genetic identity, and understanding this diversity could lead to a better understanding of the brain’s computational flexibility and memory capacity, which could inform disease treatment options, Cornell researchers report in a new study.
Scientists studied the data on the genetic profile and electrical activity of 16,000 mouse hippocampal neurons. It turned out that there is a strong relationship between genes and neuronal function. For example, some genes regulate the frequency of spikes – short impulses that transmit information between neurons. Other genes affect the shape and size of neurons.
The researchers also found that several genes are associated with the development of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. This may help in the search for new ways to diagnose and treat these diseases.
“This is the first study that shows how genetics determines the function of hippocampal neurons on such a large scale,” said one of the authors of the study, Professor Kostas Anastasiadis.