Current Issues of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

The molecular basis of memory: mechanisms, neurotransmitters and receptors involved in cognitive processes

Annales UMCS, Sectio DDD, Pharmacia, Vol. XXIV, N 3, 23

AGNIESZKA MICHALAK, MARTA KRUK-SŁOMKA, GRAŻYNA BIAŁA

Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacodynamics, Medical University of Lublin, Poland

Abstract

Memory is a consequence of plastic abilities of brain. It is a dynamic, multi-phase process, which allows adaptation to recent living conditions. The ability to learn resulting from memorisation is an essential human skill that is needed throughout the whole life span. Memory formation consists of the three following phases: encoding, consolidation and retrieval. The molecular mechanism underlying memory is based on the cascade of signaling pathways, which leads to changes in the structure of neurons through gene expression and protein synthesis. The activated brain areas during memory formation are very diverse and depend on memory formation phase, but basically they include the cerebral cortex and the limbic system, especially the hippocampus and the amygdala. Two neurotransmitters: acetylcholine and glutamate play the critical role in the memory process. The process of memory formation is highly complicated and therefore still not explored completely. All over the world, scientists put a lot of effort into making this subject more comprehensible. The latest reports indicate, that PKMζ is an especially critical component involved in the storage mechanism of long-term memory. Better understanding of the mechanisms involved in memory formation may contribute to the development of a new, more effective treatment of cognitive disorders, what is especially important in the face of population aging.

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Keywords

acetylcholine, glutamate, brain plasticity, memory and learning

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