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Currently 47.5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia worldwide. Although other cognitive deficits do develop, memory loss is one of the telltale signs of Alzheimer’s. Scientists have often wondered whether memory loss is a result of the person not being able to create and store new memories or simply having difficulty retrieving the memories.
In a recent study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), neuroscientists were able to retrieve memories that were “lost” due to Alzheimer’s disease in mice. This provides hope that memories lost to Alzheimer’s may one day be retrievable in humans.
The study compared a control group of normal mice with a group that was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Both groups were placed in a box where they received small electrical shocks. A few days later, they were placed back in the same box; the control group remembered the shocks and displayed fear, while the Alzheimer’s group did not recall the shocks or show signs of distress.
The scientists used a technique called optogenetics where they use a special blue light to stimulate genetically-modified memory cells in the brains of the mice. Upon doing so, the Alzheimer’s group showed signs of fear when placed back in the box–this time they recalled their experience with the shocks.
Optogenetics cannot be used in humans currently, but this study suggests that memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease may be reversible. To read the full article, visit the Cognitive Therapeutics Method blog at ”Newfound Hope that Alzheimer’s Memory Loss May Not Be Permanent”.