Increased levels of a naturally occurring enzyme could supercharge long-term memory.
- A recently studied brain enzyme -- called PKM-zeta -- gives rats better recall of old remembrances.
- The effect seems to work on short-term memories, too.
- Conversely, even momentary disruptions to PKM-zeta can obliterate many long-term memories seemingly for good.
Increased levels of one natural brain enzyme supercharge rat memories, a study suggests. And it's not just new, short-term memories. The enzyme -- called PKM-zeta -- gives rats better recall of old remembrances, too, a U.S.-Israeli team reports in the March 5 Science.
So far, existing memory boosters mostly help animals like rats store lessons or events more efficiently. It's a lot harder to give furry critters better recall of memories already sitting in long-term cold storage, says study coauthor Yadin Dudai.
In a number of recent studies, researchers showed that they could make rats forget a range of old learned behaviors by blocking the protein in the brain. Rodents with too little PKM-zeta, for instance, didn't know to avoid liquids that had made them sick in the past. So Dudai's team tackled the next big question. "If you, indeed, can block the memory by blocking the enzyme, can you enhance the memory by enhancing the enzyme?" says Dudai, a neurobiologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.