As most people get older, working memory capabilities decrease; In such a case, it will certainly become more difficult to do everyday tasks. In this regard, one of the key areas in the brain that is associated with working memory is the anterior thalamus (Anterior Thalamus), which mainly includes spatial memory (environment and How to orient).
Hope for healing Giving memory to mice
In a study of mice by MIT researchers, the researchers were able to identify important brain circuits in the anterior thalamus that are essential for remembering pathways in a maze. Is! The researchers also found that the circuit weakened in older mice, but as its activity increased, the mouse's ability to move properly through the mazes was greatly improved! According to researchers, these results could be very promising in reversing the memory loss process in the elderly without affecting other parts of the brain.
Professor Patricia T. Poitras of the Department of Cognitive and Neuroscience He acknowledges that by understanding How the thalamus controls the output of this brain circuit, we can hope that instead of stimulating the prefrontal cortex, we perform different functions (by stimulating the cortical neurons, we also evoke anxiety-related behaviors!). Has pursued goals more specifically and precisely.
What is the anterior thalamus and what does it have to do with spatial memory?
In general, the thalamus is a small area near the center of the brain. Is located and helps with working memory and many other executive functions such as scheduling and personal attention. Experiments in this area focus on a specific part of the thalamus called the anterior thalamus, which plays an important role in spatial memory and orientation.The anterior thalamus plays an important role in spatial memory and orientation. Previous studies in mice have shown that damage to the anterior thalamus can lead to impaired spatial memory. The results of these studies show that in humans, the activity of the anterior thalamus decreases with age, which leads to poorer spatial memory function.
The anterior thalamus is divided into three parts: ventral, medial and posterior (Dorsal) is divided. In a study published last year, researchers at the university studied the role of the posterior anterior thalamus (AD) and the anterior abdominal thalamus (AV) in shaping memory. They found that the thalamus AD part plays a role in creating mental plans for visualizing physical spaces, while the thalamus AV helps the brain to recall these memories from other similar space memories (so you can relate the neighborhood in which you live). Recognize from other neighborhoods!)
In more recent studies, researchers plan to examine the thalamus AV in more depth and further explore its role in working-space memory. To do this, they trained laboratory mice to move in a simple T-shaped path. The researchers then tied one of the arms of the T-shaped path (when reaching the crossroads) and forced the mice to move in the path.
The difference is that this time both T-arms were open. In this section, if the mouse chooses the opposite path of the first stage, it will be rewarded. This means that in order to make the right decision, the mouse needs to remember its first pathway. AD was inhibited in all three modes. In fact, the process of restraint and suppression of neurons is applied in three phases, movement despite forced impasse, decision-making stage (standing at the crossroads and remembering information) and selection (the mouse makes its decision and turns to one of the arms).
Mouse movement test in maze T Figure: The three main phases of this experiment include the movement phase despite the forced deadlock, the decision phase, and the selection phase.
It had no effect on the performance of the mice, but when the neuronal activity was suppressed in the second phase (decision making), which lasted 10 seconds or more, the mice performed worse and were deprived of the reward. Thus, it can be concluded that thalamic AV neurons are very important for storing information during decision making.
At the same time, inhibition of AD neurons disrupted the function of mice in the first phase but in the second phase (decision making) It had little effect. These findings, together with previous studies by the research team, suggest that AD neurons are involved in the formation of memories of physical space. Research has shown that thalamic AV neurons are important for maintaining information during decision making; While AD neurons in Memories are shaped by physical space.
In general, the anterior thalamus can be considered a part of spatial learning; In fact, we seem to be facing two sections in the anterior thalamus, one that helps with background learning and the other that helps maintain that information.
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The role of age on anterior thalamic function
In the continuation of this research, scientists examined the role of age on anterior thalamic function using older mice (14 months old). It is interesting to note that older mice performed worse in the T-maze experiment and their AV neurons were less excitable. However, when the researchers stimulated the neurons manually, the performance of older mice improved dramatically.
Other methods for improving the performance of older mice in the T-pathway were stimulation. The cortex is the forehead, but it should be noted that stimulation of this part of the brain increases anxiety in mice. In fact, if we directly activate or stimulate the neurons in the middle part of the frontal cortex, we also evoke anxiety-related behaviors; However, we will not see this happen with the stimulation of AV neurons.
Finally, for more information and details, you can refer to the article "Anterior thalamic circuits crucial for working memory".