Proteins (Shank & Homer) In Process of Brain Plasticity

§ May 5th, 2009 § Filed under brain research, plasticity § No Comments

A Tour of MIT's Picower Institute

A Tour of MIT's Picower Institute

Researchers from MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have identified two proteins – dubbed Shank and Homer – that work together to control the formation and pruning of synaptic connections as the brain both forms connections and lets them go.

A better understanding of this mechanism may lead to a better understanding of how to treat brain disorders such as autism, mental retardation, and Fragile X syndrome. Researchers believe these conditions are tied to abnormalities in synapses.

“Increase in the size of synapses and memory formation are closely linked,” said Mariko Hayashi, a Picower Institute research affiliate and co-author of theĀ  study. “Synapses get larger when we learn something and smaller when we forget something or unused connections are pruned. This happens in infants’ growing brains and in learning and memory during adulthood. ”

Read the full MIT article.

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