This story is from the category The Brain
Date posted: 05/02/2015
Stimulation of the hypothalamus completely reverses learning and memory deficits caused by brain lesions in rats, according to adiscovery by a group of researchers led by the UAB. The research has also served to study the mechanisms through which this recovery occurs.
The research, published in Behavioural Brain Research, was conducted by Pilar Segura and Ignacio Morgado (coordinators), Laura Aldavert and Marc Ramoneda,psychobiologists of the Institute of Neurosciences and the Department of Psychobiology and Health Sciences Methodology of the UAB and by Elisabet Kadar and Gemma Huguet, molecular biologists of the University of Girona, to explore the power of Deep Brain Stimulation treatments in the hypothalamus to recover the ability to learn and remember after a severe lesion of the amygdala.
The amygdala is a critical region for basic emotions, especially the ones that alert us of an imminent danger, and the region is involved in the learning and fear conditioning. Dysfunctions in this part of the brain block the ability to learn stimulus association, such as seeing a fire and relating it to the danger of being burnt, and can be caused by things such as biochemical alterations of the neurotransmitters, extremely tense situations, strokes or tumours.
The research verified how animals whose amygdala was damaged in more than 70% totally recovered the ability to learn and remember after being submitted to several sessions, first in learning and then in the intracranial self-stimulation of the hypothalamus, which consists of sending electric impulses to that region of the brain. The effects last up to three months after ten 60-minute treatment sessions, contributing to the consolidation of implicit and explicit memory. Moreover, the learning and retention levels of the injured animals were even better than that of healthy animals.
Researchers affirm that this is the first study to show what a strong effect this treatment has in animals with brain injuries.
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