While studying brains of rats, researchers of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine have discovered the protein associated with learning and remembering. The protein that deals with learning and remembering is called kalirin-7.
The study published in the journal Neuron offers new insights into the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. In patients, suffering from these disorders the level of kalirin-7 is significantly reduced.
According to the study, kalirin-7 behaves like a personal trainer for the human memory. As people learn something new, kalrin-7 bulks up the synaptic spines in their brain. The spines grow bigger and bigger as the lesson is repeated. The synaptic spines in the brain resemble tiny mushrooms. Synaptic spines are sites where the brain cells communicate with each other.
The discovery of kalirin’s role in learning and memory help to explain why continued learning and intellectual activity delay cognitive decline in old age.