DNA damage helps form memories

Our DNA becomes more damaged as we age and some scientists believe that this causes ageing. We have inbuilt DNA repair systems in every cell, but these systems can break down as we age leading to increased DNA damage. Mutations in genes responsible for DNA repair can cause premature ageing like in Werner's Disease. So … Continue reading DNA damage helps form memories

Fake happy memories created while you sleep

Memory manipulation is the stuff of science fiction and urban myths. At least it was until a series of experiments on mice have shown it is possible. Last year I wrote about a study in which scientists used light to create and delete false memories of fear in mice. A different group used the same … Continue reading Fake happy memories created while you sleep

Exercise helps ageing brains

Exercise of all types from running to weight training can improve memory in young healthy people. Eight weeks of regular exercise - either high intensity strength and aerobic training or simply co-ordination, balance and agility exercises can improve working memory and cognitive ability in older people as well. A recent study compared healthy participants 60-85 … Continue reading Exercise helps ageing brains

Weight lift your way to a better memory

All forms of exercise are good for your memory. Either single bouts or a long-term habit of aerobic exercise like running and swimming can improve memory. Resistance training like lifting weights, or doing sit ups or push ups, can also give memory a boost. This is pretty amazing because aerobic and anaerobic exercise turn on … Continue reading Weight lift your way to a better memory

Aged brains rejuvenated by young blood

A couple of posts ago I talked about a freaky experiment where a young mouse is surgically attached to an old mouse to create Franken-mice. The two Franken-mice share blood and the young blood reverses heart disease in the old mouse. So scientists looked to see what it is in the young blood that can treat … Continue reading Aged brains rejuvenated by young blood

Bad memories made good at the flick of a switch

How quickly our memories of people, things and places can change from good to bad if something like a break up happens. Now scientists have worked out how these memories change. And perhaps more importantly, they have turned bad memories into good memories. This builds on previous work showing it is possible to create and … Continue reading Bad memories made good at the flick of a switch

3D living brain sponges

Scientists create 3D living brain sponges to study the effect of brain injuries on living brain tissue. It is now possible to 3D print replacement body parts from a range of biomaterials. But the brain is difficult to engineer because neurons have to grow and form connections to make functional brain tissue. Previously people have tried to grow … Continue reading 3D living brain sponges

Stressed brains age faster

It's an unfortunate fact of life that as we age our brain stops working as well as we would like. It's harder to learn new things and remember the things we used to know. This is made worse by chronic stress. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal gland in response to stress. It's … Continue reading Stressed brains age faster

How to keep memories

You don’t need to remember everything you are exposed to, so your brain sorts what is necessary and turns that into memories, dumping the rest. Just like Jason Bourne in the movie 'The Bourne Identity', you can train your brain to notice and remember more. New information and experiences are better remembered if they can … Continue reading How to keep memories

Reading minds with SQUIDs

In the dystopian world of my novel, the government forces people to have annual scans in machines that read their memories. In the real world that isn't possible yet, but it is possible to 'read' brain function by magnetoencephalography (MEG). MEG machines are like a giant helmet containing around 300 little tiles that directly measure … Continue reading Reading minds with SQUIDs