What is happening in our brain when we learn something? Neuroscientist Clifford Kentros from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology attempted to give an answer.
Professor Kentros, a specialist on Molecular Biology, presented for the first time to Greek journalists his research linked with the search of the learning and memory mechanisms based on a series of molecular and genetic ‘tools’ made especially to shed light on the ‘cabling’ and the function of the human encephalus. His speech on the issue “Transgenic research of the neural circuit of the memory mechanism” was held at the Institute of Public Health of the American College in Greece.
The professor referred in detail to the mechanism of spatial memory (the function that the brain recalls, stores, elaborates and uses the informations that are related with the space or objects and their connection” which is found a small region of the brain the Hippocampus.
The hippocampus is a major component of the brain of humans and other vertebrates. Humans and other mammals have two hippocampi, one in each side of the brain. It belongs to the limbic system and plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation. The hippocampus is located under the cerebral cortex and in primates it is located in the medial temporal lobe, underneath the cortical surface. It contains two main interlocking parts: the hippocampus proper and the dentate gyrus which coordinate in order to produce the incidental memory which is affected by any disorder of the moleculars. He also referred to the so-called grid cells in the entorhinal cortex whic activate whend someone follows a specific course on the ignition process of some specific areas of the brain depending on the environment as well as with the location cells that activate only at specific geographic points. These two groups of cells participate in a navigation system in the brain, a biological navigation system that allow us to horientate and find our way.
Moreover, he said that until recently scientists believed that the Hippocampus has a simple and important circuit for the memory but, the professor discovered a new shorter way, a shortcut.
Kentros is head of a research group in Norway which was formed by the Nobel laureates May Britt and Edvard Moser who received the Nobel prize for Medicine in 2014 for their discovery of a cell group that form a biological GPS system in the brain. The contribution of Kentros’ lab is the use of synthetic viruses that he produces as vehicles of regulatory sequence of the DNA that activate specific genes in specific neurones of the Hippocampus that are related with the short memory of space. His aim is, through the use of these sythentic viruses to control specific areas and function of the brain that are linked with neurodegenerative diseases as the Parkinson disease and the Altzheimer’s.
Professor Kentros was invited to Greece by the president of the Bihelab of the Ionian University Panagiotis Vlamos in the framework of the satellite events of the international congress Genedis 2016 entitled «Genetics, Geriatrics and Neurodegenerative disease research» (www.genedis.eu), that will be held in Sparta from 20 to 23 October and is organised by Bihelab.