In DepthNeuroscience

Lifelong memories may reside in nets around brain cells

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Science  30 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6260, pp. 491-492
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6260.491

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Summary

In 1898, Italian biologist Camillo Golgi saw something odd in the slices of brain tissue he examined under his microscope: weblike lattices surrounding many neurons. Golgi could not discern their purpose, and many dismissed the nets as an artifact of his staining technique. For the next century, the lattices remained largely obscure. But last week at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago, Illinois, researchers offered tantalizing new evidence that holes in these nets could be the storage sites for long-term memories. Perineuronal nets (PNNs), as they are known today, are scaffolds of linked proteins and sugars that resemble cartilage. A growing body of research suggests that PNNs may control the formation and function of synapses, the microscopic junctions between neurons that allow cells to communicate and that may play a role in learning and memory.

  • * in Chicago, Illinois