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Nets full of holes catch long-term memories

Patterns in perineuronal structures swaddling nerve cells may last a lifetime

5:30pm, October 20, 2015
nerve cells from different parts of the mouse brain

MEMORY CATCHERS  Durable nets (green) wrap around nerve cells throughout this adult mouse brain (three different brain regions shown). Holes in these nets may store long-term memories, a new study suggests. Nerve cells are marked by red and cell nuclei are blue. 

CHICAGO —Tough, stable nets that swaddle nerve cells may be the ultimate memory catchers. These structures, called perineuronal nets, may store long-term memories, scientists reported October 19 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

“This is clearly a novel idea and it does, at first glance, look a bit way out,” says neuroscientist Eric Kandel of Columbia University. But there are good reasons to suspect that perineuronal nets hold memories, he says. “I am pleased to see this bold idea put out over the airways.”

The idea, presented by neuroscientist Sakina Palida of the University of California, San Diego, offers an explanation for how the brain can hold memories for decades. “Up to this point, we still don’t understand how we maintain memories in our brains for up to our entire lifetimes,” she

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