New Research Brings New Hope For People With Dementia
Wed, April 21, 2021

New Research Brings New Hope For People With Dementia

Forgetfulness can be a clear sign of memory loss and in some cases, it can also be a symptom of a more serious disease such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease / Photo by: Cathy Yeulet via 123RF

 

Forgetfulness can be a clear sign of memory loss and in some cases, it can also be a symptom of a more serious disease such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Cases of Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia have increased to almost 600,000 people across all ages in 2017 in the whole world. It is also the leading cause of death of persons above 70 years of age. Hence, research in human memory loss and retrieval is highly needed in order to help people with dementia to cope with their sickness and help them lead better lives. 

 

Dementia With Old Age

According to the Mayo Clinic, it is normal for people of old age to develop memory loss as long as it does not prevent them from living a full and productive life. However, when the memory changes become unmanageable, then it becomes a problem since they will not be able to live independently or maintain a healthy social life. Memory diseases can also come with old age; dementia usually begins and gradually worsens over time and impairs an individual’s ability to work, create meaningful social interactions and relationships. 

In most cases, memory loss can disrupt a person’s life and it is the first or most-recognizable sign of dementia. Early symptoms can include: asking the same questions repeatedly, mixing up words, taking a long time to complete easy tasks, misplacing items in inappropriate places, getting lost while walking or driving, and having a sudden change in mood or behavior. 

In new research published in Japan, researchers claim that their study in memory recall can eventually help people with memory loss problems and memory-related diseases.

Is Forgetfulness Related to Time?

Researchers from the University of Tokyo claim that forgetfulness may be related to the time of day. They have identified a gene in mice that can influence their memory recall at different times of the day. According to professor Satoshi Kida from the University of Tokyo Department of Applied Biological Chemistry, their team has identified the first gene in mice that specifically functions towards memory retrieval. 

Moreover, the researchers claim that when a person forgets something, it can be because they actually didn’t truly learn it in the first place or simply because they cannot recall the information from where it was stored in the brain. The mechanism of forgetting is a complicated study because it is quite difficult to differentiate between actually not knowing the information or just not being able to recall it at that specific moment. 

The team tested the memories of young adult mice -- at first, they trained the mice to explore a new object for a few minutes before they ran the memory tests. Then later on, in the “recall” phase of the test, the mice were reintroduced to the same objects at different times of the day. Furthermore, they also did the same experiment with healthy mice and mice without BMAL1, which is a protein that regulates the expression of many other genes and BMAL1 usually fluctuates between low levels just before waking up and high levels before going to sleep. 

Researchers from the University of Tokyo claim that forgetfulness may be related to the time of day. They have identified a gene in mice that can influence their memory recall at different times of the day / Photo by: Alexander Raths via 123RF

 

The results have shown that the mice who were introduced to the object just before they normally wake up and then were retested again just after they normally went to sleep did recognize the object. Meanwhile, the mice that were introduced to the object just before they normally wake up and then were retested 24 hours later did not recognize the same object. 

Moreover, healthy mice and mice without BMAL1 had the same pattern of results, but mice without BMAL1 were actually more forgetful just before they normally wake up. Hence, the researchers claim that there is something about the time of day just before they normally wake up when the BMAL1 levels are low that causes the mice to not recall something they have already learned and should be able to recall, as reported on Science Daily, a website for academic and medical news. 

The memory research community previously suspected that there is a correlation between the body’s internal clock that is responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles and their learning and memory function and formation, as explained by Professor Kida. Now, the team has evidence that the body’s internal clock plays an integral role in regulating memory recall. 

Furthermore, the researchers have also traced the role of BMAL1 in memory retrieval to the hippocampus, which is a specific area of the brain. They have also connected normal BMAL1 to the activation of dopamine receptors and the modification of other small signaling molecules in the brain. Professor Kida added that if they can identify ways to boost memory retrieval by the BMAL1 pathway, then they can apply this to human diseases of memory deficit like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Hence, this new research can bring in a new perspective in looking at cures for memory-related disease. It also provides new hope for people living with dementia.