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Dendrite Activity Plays Important Role In Memory Formation

Update Date: Oct 27, 2014 07:13 PM EDT

Researchers have discovered how neurons in the brain might allow some experience to be remembered while others are forgotten. 

According to the study, if someone wants to remember something about your environment, involvement of dendrites is necessary. 

Researchers used a high-resolution, one-of-a-kind microscope into the brain of a living animal. They observed what exactly was happening in individual neurons called place cells, as the animals navigated a virtual reality maze. 

Researchers noted that contrary to current thought, the activity of a neuron's cell body and its dendrites can be different. 

"There are a lot of theories on memory but very little data as to how individual neurons actually store information in a behaving animal," said Daniel A. Dombeck, assistant professor of neurobiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the study's senior author, in the press release. 

"Now we have uncovered signals in dendrites that we think are very important for learning and memory. Our findings could explain why some experiences are remembered and others are forgotten."

The hippocampus of the brain contains several hundreds of thousands of place cells - neurons essential to the brain's GPS system. 

The study is first to image the activity of individual dendrites in place cells. It was published in the journal Nature 2014. 

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