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Could remembering something actually damage our brain cells ?

By T.K. Randall
April 29, 2024 · Comment icon 5 comments
Consciousness and reality.
Memory formation is even stranger than we could have imagined. Image Credit: Bing AI / Dall-E 3
New research suggests that the process of forming long-term memories might damage the brain's nerve cells.
It stands to reason that in order to function in our daily lives, we need to form new memories, otherwise we would be unable to remember anything that happened to us in the past.

According to a new study, however, this process might actually be damaging our brains.

For the research, an international team of scientists analyzed the hippocampal neurons of mice during memory formation and found evidence of brain inflammation and DNA damage.

While it is not unusual for DNA breaks to occur in the brain (these are typically repaired very quickly), the damage caused during memory formation seemed to be a lot more significant.

On the plus side, the memories formed were a lot more resistant to outside forces, essentially locking them in permanently in a way that made them protected from external influences.
"This is noteworthy because we're constantly flooded by information, and the neurons that encode memories need to preserve the information they've already acquired and not be distracted by new inputs," said neuroscientist Jelena Radulovic from New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Ultimately then, it seems that forming new memories does cause at least some damage.

"Inflammation of brain neurons is usually considered to be a bad thing, since it can lead to neurological problems such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease," said Radulovic.

"But our findings suggest that inflammation in certain neurons in the brain's hippocampal region is essential for making long-lasting memories."

Not something that we need to be worrying about, then.

"It seems likely that over the course of evolution, hippocampal neurons have adopted this immune-based memory mechanism by combining the immune response's DNA-sensing TLR9 pathway with a DNA repair centrosome function to form memories without progressing to cell division," said Radulovic.

Source: Science Alert | Comments (5)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by OverSword 20 days ago
You just can't win 
Comment icon #2 Posted by joc 20 days ago
For the research, an international team of scientists analyzed the hippocampal neurons of mice during memory formation and found evidence of brain inflammation and DNA damage. Oh wow, I didn't even know that mice had  a dumb I feel now.  
Comment icon #3 Posted by Duke Wellington 19 days ago
I don`t know why science has adopted the stance where all inflammation is bad. I have lost a chunk of flesh before, and it never grew back, until the original wound reopened and it got inflamed. Then it did. I think its needed in regeneration.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Hankenhunter 19 days ago
The next question should be is, are mouse hippocampus the same as humans? 
Comment icon #5 Posted by LucidElement 17 days ago
Now THATS funny.

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