Today’s Solutions: May 23, 2022

It seems like we’re writing about fish a whole lot lately! Last week, we featured an article about goldfish learning to drive. This week, zebrafish, a species studied for their relatively long lifespans, are helping us understand how memories are made!

Let’s talk synapses!

Signals in the brain are passed between neurons through tiny gaps called synapses. Here, a chemical rapidly transfers from one side to another, allowing information to flow through the organ. It is widely accepted these structures play a key role in memory formation, the theory being that particular synapses are linked to particular memories. Therefore, the more a synapse is used the more the memory is reinforced.

Testing zebrafish memories

Scientists, from the University of California, have been able to add more key information to this theory through imaging the brains of zebrafish (Danio rerio). The reason these creatures were used was their convenient clear skin, giving scientists a see-through window into their organs without having to kill the animals, a research goldmine!

Previously, synapse structures have been too minuscule to image. Although, with the clever use of fluorescence molecules and lasers the group was able to image the live fish brains. Using neutral (light) and unpleasant (heat) stimuli, the researchers trained the associated memory of the fish and recorded their neurological activity.

What were the results?

The results, published in PNAS, were interesting, to say the least. The team actually found that the widely accepted strengthening idea is not entirely true! Instead, new synapse connections were seen forming in numerous parts of the brain and also disappearing while making memories. The updated theory may point towards memory being imprinted through changes in the number of synapses.

Further research needs to be carried out to strengthen the group’s idea. If proven true, it could change how we approach the brain and mental health treatment. For example, therapy for diseases such as PTSD, addiction, and memory loss therapies could be seeing an enormous upgrade.

Source study: PNASRegional synapse gain and loss accompany memory formation in larval zebrafish

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

New program seeks to break the cycle between jail and homelessness

Several factors can lead to homelessness: a lack of affordable housing, high costs of living, and even, sadly, mental illness. Another factor that contributes to homelessness, which is often overlooked, is incarceration.  Many individuals serve ... Read More

How a century-old cargo schooner is bringing back emissions-free shipping

The shipping industry is responsible for 2.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions — putting about 940 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Before 1960, however, when containerization started to take off, ... Read More

Dam! Europe removes record number of river barriers in 2021

In 2021, Spain began a movement to remove dams from the country’s rivers to restore fish migration routes and boost biodiversity across the nation. They successfully took down 108 barriers and inspired other European countries ... Read More

This contact lens releases glaucoma medication

While it is treatable, glaucoma remains a serious eye disease that can damage the optic nerve and lead to blindness if left untreated. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease, and research ... Read More

US soccer and national teams reach agreement to close gender pay gap

In a historic win for women’s rights, US Soccer and both the women’s and men’s national teams have proclaimed a collective bargaining agreement to close the gender pay gap and ensure that each player, regardless ... Read More

New immunotherapy drug combo slows liver cancer growth in mice

There is something of an art to the science of medicine. We’ve all heard that everyone’s different, and so is their biology. Sometimes, developing the right treatment for a patient’s condition takes dedicated and creative ... Read More