The Biology of How Memories are Formed

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

It goes without saying, but it is worth repeating, that rats are not humans and our brains are very different. Nonetheless, a lot of what we learn about the human brain is first learned in rat brains.

With an interesting publication last week in the journal Nature, researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine may have embarked on key learning about how biology plays a role in preserving memories.  This work was done in rats but may have human implications.

The scientists found that a particular hormone known as IGF-II became more prevalent in a rats brains immediately after learning that entering a dark box resulted in a shock to the foot.  They also showed that by injecting the same hormone into rat brains, they could help the rats preserve a memory for a longer period of time.

This finding may prove to clarify our understanding of the biology involved in memory formation and preservation, which could lead to breakthroughs in the field of human memory enhancement.  Better insights into the hormones that play a role in the process could also lead one day to supplements that actually improve memory performance.

Again, this is early stage work performed in rats, not in humans.  Years of validation work will follow prior to any new "memory pills" that could be based on this insight.  It's interesting, but it is early.

You should follow Brain Today on twitter here

A better understanding and more awareness of Alzheimer's related issues can impact personal health decisions and generate significant impact across a population of aging individuals. Please use the share button below to spread this educational message as widely as possible.


  1. Most of our knowledge about auditory memory is based on simple sounds. How templates emerge from everyday auditory experience with arbitrary complex sounds is currently largely unknown, » said lead study author Dr. Trevor Agus from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris.

  2. This is so interesting because I'VE ALWAYS wanted to know how the memory works, I think that's really complex, and this post provided us the best information.

  3. specially the social relationships are almost the same. So they have so basic behaviors and they reproduce faster than many mammals.