Understanding more about how memories are formed and how they're used in learning
It can be frustrating seeing a friend pick up a new sport or musical instrument quicker than you. However, their previous experiences may have given them an advantage. Scientists have recently shown that memories of our experiences shape how cells in the hippocampus (in purple), the brain’s memory centre, learn and adapt to new situations. The team found that mice previously exposed to discomforting environments were warier of new potentially harmful surroundings, compared to mice that had been brought up in warm and safe conditions. Interestingly, these more experienced mice formed memories of the new environment differently from the naïve mice, relying on neurons in their existing hippocampal memory networks (shown in blue/green). This phenomenon, called metaplasticity, helps us to better understand how our brain uses memories and prior history to inform how we learn.
Written by Gaëlle Coullon
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