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Mar. 6, 2013 — The flip of a single molecular switch helps create the mature neuronal connections that allow the brain to bridge the gap between adolescent impressionability and adult stability. Now Yale School of Medicine researchers have reversed the process, recreating a youthful brain that facilitated both learning and healing in the adult mouse.
By monitoring the synapses in living mice over weeks and months, Yale researchers have identified the key genetic switch for brain maturation a study released March 6 in the journal Neuron. The Nogo Receptor 1 gene is required to suppress high levels of plasticity in the adolescent brain and create the relatively quiescent levels of plasticity in adulthood. In mice without this gene, juvenile levels of brain plasticity persist throughout adulthood. When researchers blocked the function of this gene in old mice, they reset the old brain to adolescent levels of plasticity.
"These are the molecules the brain needs for the transition from adolescence to adulthood," said Dr. Stephen Strittmatter. Vincent Coates Professor of Neurology, Professor of Neurobiology and senior author of the paper. "It suggests we can turn back the clock in the adult brain and recover from trauma the way kids recover." Rehabilitation after brain injuries like strokes requires that patients re-learn tasks such as moving a hand. Researchers found that adult mice lacking Nogo Receptor recovered from injury as quickly as adolescent mice and mastered new, complex motor tasks more quickly than adults with the receptor.
Scientists have long known that the young and old brains are very different. Adolescent brains are more malleable or plastic, which allows them to learn languages more quickly than adults and speeds recovery from brain injuries. The comparative rigidity of the adult brain results in part from the function of a single gene that slows the rapid change in synaptic connections between neurons.
Originally posted by winofiend
reply to post by AQuestion
That's not the point.
The point is that the ability to learn becomes harder over time, due to the pathways in the brain being reinforced with repeated behaviours. A young brain has less strict pathways, and therefore can easily make new ones.
An older brain has built up the learned behaviours to such an extent it can sometimes be hard to break them to learn hew things.
I doubt very much anyone is proposing a youthful mind of innocence where nothing is ever learned.
If anything it would help the elderly child of yours in her 90's from putting her senile hand on the stove again after forgetting why it hurt 2 weeks ago.
At least that's my take on it. I don't like the phrasing of plastic or malleable as they were used as it implies a softer brain.. the brain doesn't harden over time.. as far as I'm aware.
Flip of a Single Molecular Switch Makes an Old Mouse Brain Young,
Originally posted by darkbake
You can make a young mind by taking vitamin K2 mixed with vitamin D3 as well - I buy mine on E-bay. But there is totally an advantage to letting one's mind age, as it brings stability - after a while, I have learned a lot, and I would rather stay in an area I know than constantly be exploring new social groups and new frontiers.
And I mean constantly - like, for example, ending up in completely different social groups (I've gone from gamers to rugged backpacking outdoors-women somehow).
edit on 7-3-2013 by darkbake because: (no reason given)