Want your brain to stay young? Cognitive decline can be arrested, says latest research
The brain loses its ability to learn, remember and adapt with age. Much like the rest of the body, there is an obvious decline in the way our brain functions. Now a new study conducted on mice shows that manipulating a single gene can help rejuvenate the normal cognitive functioning of the brain.
The study conducted by scientists at the University of Utah Health was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study conducted in the visual cortex of the mouse brain was aimed at increasing its ability to adapt to experience. "It's exciting because it suggests that by just manipulating one gene in adult brains, we can boost brain plasticity," said lead investigator Jason Shepherd, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at University of Utah Health.
Scientists have always been curious about the way the brain changes over time. Brain plasticity has a ‘critical window’ during which certain conditions can be corrected. This also made the scientists think about what keeps this window open and if closed, is it too late to reverse or correct conditions. Previous studies had established that the critical window never opens in mice lacking the gene Arc. This also led the researchers to think about the role Arc plays in controlling the critical period during normal brain development. The study recommends manipulating Arc to prolong brain plasticity.
The study results are exciting because of their application in medicine and healthcare. The study could lead to the development of new treatments to arrest cognitive decline and recover the brain’s full potential. Exploring recovery after a stroke or brain injury also seems like a possibility thanks to this study.
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