How do I strengthen my hippocampus

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The hippocampus is a structure in the brain that is largely responsible for our long-term memory. People whose hippocampus is destroyed instantly forget about situations they have just experienced or about people they have seen recently.

Good long-term memory even without stable synapses?

"So far we have assumed that information storage in the hippocampus depends on the strength of the nerve cell connections there, the synapses," says Prof. Dr. Thomas Oertner, Director of the Institute for Synaptic Physiology at the ZMNH. Synapses are the structures with which a nerve cell is in contact with another cell, such as a sensory, muscle, glandular or nerve cell. They are used to transmit information and play an important role in storing it.

For a functioning long-term memory, so the common doctrine, the cell connections must be strong and remain stable indefinitely. This process is known as "long-term plasticity" and has been a central topic in neurobiological research for several years.

Doctrine outdated

The team around Prof. Oertner has now come to new, different results. Using experimental tricks, they influenced synaptic connections in such a way that these information highways were transformed into 30 km / h zones, as it were.

“We drastically reduced the strength of the synapses and then continued to observe the cell connections,” explains Prof. Oertner. The result after seven days was amazing. "50 percent of the manipulated synapses dissolved, the other 50 percent returned to their original state," says Dr. Simon Wiegert from the ZMNH, first author of the now published study. “There is apparently no stable long-term change in the synapses. Accordingly, the long-term memory must also function differently than previously assumed. "

The brain works like a computer

According to the researchers, the study suggests that the brain uses strategies similar to a digital computer to store information over long periods of time. The hippocampus initially stores information in "analog" form by changing the strength of the synapses. But this condition is unstable.

After a few days, this analog storage is replaced by a "digital" form of storage - some synapses fail, others return to their original state. “Digital storage is much less prone to slow decay. That could explain why we remember key experiences from childhood and adolescence right through to old age, ”said Dr. Cradles.

For their work, the basic researchers use a so-called two-photon microscope to carry out functional measurements on individual synapses in intact tissue. This new technology enables the UKE scientists for the first time to continuously observe nerve cells in the laboratory for several days at work.