Nicotine Creates Stronger Memories

>> 20090910


Dr. John A. Dani, professor of neuroscience at BCM and co-author of the study.
Dani and Dr. Jianrong Tang, instructor of neuroscience at BCM and co-author of the report, decided to record brain activity of mice as they were exposed to nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco.

The mice were allowed to roam through an apparatus with two separate compartments. In one compartment, they received nicotine. In the other, they got a benign saline solution. Later, the researchers recorded how long the mice spent in each compartment. They also recorded brain activity within the hippocampus, an area of the brain that creates new memories.

“The brain activity change was just amazing,” Dani said. “Compared to injections of saline, nicotine strengthened neuronal connections – sometimes up to 200 percent. This strengthening of connections underlies new memory formation.”

Dani said understanding mechanisms that create memory could have implications in future research and treatments for memory disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and for dopamine signaling disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease.

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