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Memory Molecule Identified

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the face-is-familiar dept.

Biotech 97

Reader Ostracus informs us of research led by Michael Ehlers of Duke University that has identified a molecule, myosin Vb (five-b), that seems to be a critical component in the formation of memory. "A major puzzle for neurobiologists is how the brain can modify one... synapse at a time in a brain cell and not affect the thousands of other connections nearby. Plasticity, the ability of the brain to precisely rearrange the connections between its nerve cells, is the framework for learning and forming memories ... The discovery of a molecule that moves new receptors to the synapse so that the neuron... can respond more strongly helps to explain several observations about [brain] plasticity ... [The researchers] found that the myosin Vb molecule in hippocampal neurons responded to a flow of calcium ions from the synaptic space by popping up and into action. One end of the myosin is attached to meshlike actin filaments so it can 'walk' to the end of the nerve cells where receptors are. On its other end, it tows an endosome, a packet that contains new receptors. 'These endosomes are like little memories waiting to happen,' Ehlers said."

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Little memories waiting to happen? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25601095)

Let us pray that they don't mean memories like these [flickr.com] .

Problems with the headline (5, Informative)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601113)

I'm not sure they can call this a "memory molecule" so much as a "molecule responsible for changing the receptors at the synapse to make a memory." The molecule itself is not what memories are actually made of, which is what I would think of. The changed activity of the neuron is more akin to that. And it's also not specific to memories. The process of myosin Vb bringing endosomes to the surface is not unique to neurons, that's been known for a while (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11408590).

That said, it's really interesting that they've identified this, as it not only tells you how the change is made, but also tells you the stimulus to change it.

Re:Problems with the headline (2, Interesting)

GrimLordJesus (1394523) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601145)

It is part of the functioning of memory. I would class it as a memory molecule, but then again I am not a neurobiolist..

Re:Problems with the headline (5, Insightful)

Compuser (14899) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601333)

Myosin V is a major motor which hauls all kinds of stuff. Calling it a memory molecule is like calling a Volvo truck the food truck. Yes, it might be used to deliver food sometimes but it is much more than that.

Re:Problems with the headline (1)

Poorcku (831174) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601429)

ah yes, the car analogies...

Re:Problems with the headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25601785)

ah yes, the car analogies...

... are by far better than the Godwin analogies. ;)

Re:Problems with the headline (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25605067)

It's kind of like calling BMW the "nazi motor company." Yes, they did make planes for their country (germany... I hope no one was wondering that)during WWI and WWII (if I can trust wikipedia), but they make cars now.

Hey, lookit that, I goodwin'd, used a car analogy, AND made a bad metaphor ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Just for good measure, here's a youtube video, I PROMISE it's not rick astley

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnOt4aN2uyc [youtube.com]

FIRST POST

1. Do something
2. do something else
3. ???
4. Profit!

Linux.

Sorry, but I'm not willing to go the whole 9 yards and risk seeing goatse.

Re:Problems with the headline (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25603169)

So the brain is not a series of tubes?

Re:Problems with the headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25603623)

Wow could you guys get any more pedantic?

Clearly the headline is meant to read that this is the molecule responsible for memory. What you pedants want to twist it into saying is that it's the molecule that is only responsible for memory.

It's still the memory molecule even if it has other duties.

It's really sick that no matter what scientific article is posted, there's always some know-it-all asshole that posts his first commonsense gut-feeling objection to something in the summary.

Re:Problems with the headline (1)

Prototek (937689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25604957)

So the brain is like a big truck. Not a series of tubes?

Re:Problems with the headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25601397)

Agreed, this headline is very misleading. Neuroscientists have always known that receptor density increases after synchronous firing, this is a part of LTP. They just didn't know the mechanism. Moreover, of all the "memory molecules", though important, this is hardly the most important (NMDA receptors, ect.). Thank you Slashdot for your misleading headlines and your quest to ultimately be indistinguishable from Digg.

Re:Problems with the headline (2, Funny)

alexj33 (968322) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601877)

So this means the new Samsung brain-dump backup drives will be on the market by the end of the year.

Re:Problems with the headline (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 5 years ago | (#25604689)

I'm not sure they can call this a "memory molecule" so much as a "molecule responsible for changing the receptors at the synapse to make a memory."

I'll never ask you to write a headline.
--
"In describing genetic mechanisms, there is a choice between being inexact and incomprehensible" http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1965/press.html [nobelprize.org]

Re:Problems with the headline (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#25611099)

Can this explain muscle memory too?

Re:Problems with the headline (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25620269)

Uh... I'm honestly not sure if you were serious or making a very subtle joke. I think muscle memory is actually a product not of muscle itself but the neurons controlling it. In which case, yes, this could be controlling the conditioned pathways that cause "muscle memory." I'm pretty sure this is not the same myosin that makes up your muscles, so it's not directly the sarcomeres that could be doing anything like this. In any event, the myosin in your muscles are arranged in a different configuration than endosomal transport.

There may be some receptor change at the neuromuscular junction, in which case you would expect Myosin Vb to be involved in that, and THAT might also contribute to "muscle memory."

Short answer that should have been at the top: I'm not really sure but I don't think so.

Re:Problems with the headline (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#25624981)

When it comes to scientific advancement in these fields ( as well as Alzeihmers memory being dubbed diabetes 3) I never joke, it is something I take quite seriously, ranging to being aware of testing environments also to trigger memories....sometimes even though this study tends to link it to a chemical reaction...I have noticed traumatic experiences that trigger a small release of adrenalin seems to also affect the memory. Someone being in a car accident relives it everyday as if they were in that accident....even 20 years later...no also excluding good "traumatic" memories....your first time in bed with someone etc... there is yet another link I know exists but hasnt been found, that triggers these pathways to absorb this chemical....and can be called upon whenever neccesary....I use "mega memory" as the key foucs...using techniques to improve the memory....this actually stems from using a technique that turns your thought into a "movie" so as to remember easier...
ever notice how when watching a movie..you become "entranced" and then relive that movie over and over again "ie- asta la vista ...baby" what movie is that from.... who said that line, what were you wearing while watching that movie... this is only the first step.

I believe that we use 10% of our capacity of the brain...but to use 100% would not give us
abnormal powers, only make us extremely sharp and aware and also very intuitive and maybe
a little more body language focused. It is such a big realm for the brain, as being so undiscovered yet...there is still hope.

Sound rough (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601139)

Sounds like pretty rough research to me. It might be the beginning of a breakthrough, but that remains to be seen. My take is: wait and see.

Re:Sound rough (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25601171)

And my take is that I'm going to start mixing energy shakes with myosin Vb (from ground up uncooked cattle brains). Photographic memory here I come! Yeehaw!

Re:Sound rough (5, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601211)

I'm taking actin and will soon kick your ass. I will crush you with my contractile system and force feed you ATP with my sliding filaments as I hurl you in toward my M line.

Re:Sound rough (1)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601533)

What in god's name does that mean? It seems like it might be funny, but I'm not a biology geek.

Re:Sound rough (2, Informative)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601825)

Wikipedia is your friend :)

It appears actin is part of filaments which are a rather important part of the contractile system, which is the system that gets your muscle cells to contract (which makes you muscles move). I have not a clue what an M line is. ATP is an important chemical that your cells internally use for energy. Why one would force feed someone ATP is beyond me (AFAIK it does not do anything special when ingested).

It appears MillionthMonkey is boosting his strength while Anonymous Coward is boosting his memory -> MM kicks AC's ass. (or something like that)

I used to be good at biology :(

Re:Sound rough (1)

FluffyWithTeeth (890188) | more than 5 years ago | (#25603143)

The most worrying thing is that enough people got the joke to mod him 5, Funny.

M line (1)

FeebleOldMan (1089749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608067)

Wikipedia is your friend :)

Sometimes Google treats me with more respect though.

M line
n.
A fine dark band in the center of the H band in the myofibrils of striated muscle fibers. Also called M band.

A histological structure in myofibrils in skeletal muscle. The line runs transversely to the length of the myofibrils and corresponds to the segment occupied by myosin myofilaments.

Source [thefreedictionary.com]

Re:Sound rough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25601863)

Yes, just like in the academy, Wesley Crusher.

Re:Sound rough (2, Insightful)

MrMr (219533) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601255)

Perhaps it is a piece of research that will not result in a product that somebody can sell at a huge profit, but will only increase our understanding of the world a little.
Or is that too silly to consider?

Re:Sound rough (3, Insightful)

nih (411096) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601441)

Perhaps it is a piece of research that will not result in a product that somebody can sell at a huge profit, but will only increase our understanding of the world a little. Or is that too silly to consider?

DMCA takedown notice: You have one day to remove your comment since this infringes on my newly acquired patent no: 3,778,214

Re:Sound rough (1)

kdemetter (965669) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601855)

Perhaps it is a piece of research that will not result in a product that somebody can sell at a huge profit, but will only increase our understanding of the world a little.
Or is that too silly to consider?

(making a copy so it's harder to take down )

Re:Sound rough (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#25602119)

Perhaps it is a piece of research that will not result in a product that somebody can sell at a huge profit, but will only increase our understanding of the world a little.
Or is that too silly to consider?

You don't think a drug to improve ability to remember stuff you experience while you're taking it would sell?

Re:Sound rough (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 5 years ago | (#25604337)

Remeber what?

Re:Sound rough (5, Interesting)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 5 years ago | (#25602249)

I see here a possible method of improving AI. If we can indeed model synthetic neurons to perform in a similar way, we might have the key to designing more efficient captcha breaking systems.

Re:Sound rough (3, Interesting)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 5 years ago | (#25603035)

Google on "artificial neural network" and read a few of the 600,000 hits that you will find. ANN theory is as old as digital computers. Commercial ANN applications have been growing in number and sophistication for over 10 years, e.g,, Dragon NaturallySpeaking and other speech recognition software, Caere OmniPage and other OCR packages.

What TFA is about is reporting the discovery of a key part of the mechanism that changes the weighting factors in a neuron in a biological neural net. Of itself, I doubt that this will trigger any insights on how to improve ANNs: the frankenmeisters already know how to do that with the neurones they work with. But this does open the door for further research by biologists into wetware neural net mechanisms, and that could lead to some interesting things.

Re:Sound rough (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 5 years ago | (#25604317)

My point was that if we didn't know how human memory works, how can we replicate it?

It's like Leonardo da Vinci when he tied to build a bird-like device in order to fly. It took, many centuries later, some insight into aerodynamics, to figure out that flying humans would not dress in bird suits in order to fly.

Now if ANN have been around for only 10 years, we might still have a few more decades (if not centuries) to go before we better understand human memory and build something useful. I don't want to minimize the developments of tools such as Dragon Naturally Speaking but I can't really have an argument with the application or ask it why it exists.

Re:Sound rough (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608289)

I don't want to minimize the developments of tools such as Dragon Naturally Speaking but I can't really have an argument with the application or ask it why it exists.

So you are holding out for AI that is self-aware, can use rational processes, and can communicate in a human language about metaphysical conjectures? Expecting to find a key to that kind sentience by studying the inner workings of neurons is similar to mastering compiler design by studying the details of semiconductor theory. Wrong scope; wrong field; won't work.

In the meantime, OCR and speech recognition are narrow fields where AI is working very well, thank you. I am an agnostic about whether there is any AI out in the wild as yet. I have seen a number of slashdot comments that make me wonder whether there are AI entities posting here, in a successful Turing test sort of way. How could anybody tell?

In fact, how could you prove to me that you are human? It really is time we started thinking about an inverse Turing test. Because to assume that every entity we bump into on the internet is human is an increasingly absurd leap of faith.

Re:Sound rough (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 5 years ago | (#25632387)

No, no my point was that we're really at the dawn of knowledge when it comes to tapping the potential of AI. Sorry if I wasn't clear. Granted, OCR does work but within narrow parameters, same with speach recognition.

But your point in interesting. Aren't we simply an assembly of different smaller components which we call human? A bit like this other assembly of components standing in front of me which I call a computer. Part of those components is the "self awareness" which I eluded to. Maybe my computer is self aware, I can't tell because it can't express it in a way I recognise but neither does my cat.

Re:Sound rough (1)

bmacs27 (1314285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25604937)

Well, in line with your sig, here's a little pinch. The problem with faithfully modeling molecular computation is the massive parallelism inherent in physical interactions.

That is fairly intractable presuming you want to run your model on a typical serial PC. You could certainly use something fancier like some sort of chemical/quantum computer, "wet ware" as was mentioned, or perhaps one of these massive clusters. Still, the data dependencies are not trivial, making many traditional forms of parallelism somewhat inadequate.

This is an exciting discovery, but I'd urge restraint in drawing inferences from the conclusions. This work is more about form than function, when function is what we are most often interested in. Memory, for instance, is not an easy "function" to pin down parametrically.

A deeper understanding in a probability theoretic sense, for instance, might be of more use to the modeling community. The difficult question lies in an understanding of task general data mining. Given limited memory, how can one know a priori which details will be crucial to remember, and which will not?

Assuming evolution, the particular mechanism by which this is performed in the brain is not necessarily relevant, nor even consistent across brain areas. It's likely, for instance, that information about how visual features are coded, even at a gross network topological level will be of more use for breaking captcha codes. This might give you more insight into what details are generalized over, and which are critical to mimic human performance in that task. With such a parameterized model, one can more easily efficiently implement it in a way better suited to the constraints of typical hardware.

Re:Sound rough (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#25603281)

Perhaps it is a piece of research that will not result in a product that somebody can sell at a huge profit, but will only increase our understanding of the world a little.

Why is it that some people think those are two mutually incompatible things? There's no reason we can't have a better understanding of the world, and enrich the people who made that understanding possible at the same time.

Re:Sound rough (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 5 years ago | (#25604417)

The problem with profitability is that it implies property. So while there are certainly profitable commercial products that enrich the world to some degree, it is arguable that those same products would be much better for the world if the concepts behind them were not kept proprietary.

I don't know if you recall the exciting race to the finish for the Human Genome project. I'm not a geneticist, so I'll over-simplify: basically there was a team at UC Santa Cruz working on completing the map, and a private pharma corporation doing the same. They both had the completed map within their sites, and the pharma group made it clear that, if they completed their map first, it would be copyrighted, and anyone who wanted to use the information would have to pay them a royalty--even if they did their own research and came up with the same data, they'd sue anyone they could nto oblivion. The UC group made it clear that their work was going into the public domain.

The final stretch was a nail-biter. There were stories of one of their coders working 23 hours per day, and strapping blocks of ice to his wrists so he could continue working on the sequencing software. At the end, the folks at UC won, and so did the world. Thousands of labs around the world have free access to that information; the act of making it proprietary would have effectively been an act of theft from humanity.

Of course, who am I to say what's better? Maybe there's an evil researcher out there who is perfecting a cancer that is as contagious as the common cold, and if s/he didn't have access to the genome map, it wouldn't be happening. I guess we'll never know.

Deja Vu (4, Funny)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601369)

It might be the beginning of a breakthrough, but that remains to be seen. My take is: wait and see.

That's what everyone said last time we discovered this, back in 1925, 1903, and 1871. Somehow, after discovering these molecules, everyone forgets to follow up.

Re:Deja Vu (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25605119)

Somehow, after discovering these molecules, everyone forgets to follow up.

Come to think of it, yeah, I do remember something about making a virus that will temporarily get rid of myosin Vb to test in rats. But maybe that was just a dream. Hmm... well that sounds like a good logical next experiment to try. What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Sound rough (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601375)

IANAMB but the "walking molecule" can been seen in this awe inspiring animation [youtube.com] .

Re:Sound rough (1)

brendank310 (915634) | more than 5 years ago | (#25602747)

Are you sure that's not a Spore trailer?

Awe Inspiring Animation (1)

css-hack (1038154) | more than 5 years ago | (#25604299)

Fantastic video.

I originally saw it on a TED talk [ted.com] . The talk itself is great, but the video (higher quality, less compression) starts at 6:54.

Hope somebody else enjoys as much as I did.

Re:Sound rough (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601891)

What sage advice! And here I was about to flip my shit and put all my money into myosin Vb factories, or something.

The further this research goes... (4, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601173)

The closer we are to immortal memory. That would be both good and bad. We would forever despair of our failures. We would always remember where we left our keys.

Since all the other parts of a Man are capable of being restored through regressing any cell into a T-cell and then culturing it into the desired part, if this gets us to where we can keep the mind functional as well, then we've found Ponce deLeon's fountain of youth.

That would be great, because there are only 6 billion of us, and that number was not growing nearly fast enough.

Re:The further this research goes... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25601253)

That would be great, because there are only 6 billion of us, and that number was not growing nearly fast enough.

Improved memory might actually slow that down. If certain memories weren't overriden by hormones etc, then memories of three A.M. feedings, diaper changes, child support etc might dissuade us from sex without birth control methods. Then there is the possibility of your partner never forgeting your "mistakes",,,,

Re:The further this research goes... (1)

dominious (1077089) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601299)

Then there is the possibility of your partner never forgeting your "mistakes"

Um, too late..women [wikipedia.org] already have that

Re:The further this research goes... (1)

RockWolf (806901) | more than 5 years ago | (#25606165)

Then there is the possibility of your partner never forgeting your "mistakes",,,,

And that's different from what happens currently... How?

Re:The further this research goes... (2)

Singularitarian2048 (1068276) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601291)

One of the most tragic parts of being human is that we forget the details of the romances of our youth.

Re:The further this research goes... (3, Funny)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601349)

No. By far, the most tragic happening of a human is that we die.

20, 50, 100 years of happenings, memories.. All erased, with none ever being recoverable.

That is a horrible thing that needs to be stopped at all costs, unless the person willfully chooses to do so. That being said, I am a Singultarian.

Re:The further this research goes... (3, Insightful)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601915)

> 20, 50, 100 years of happenings, memories.. All erased, with none ever being recoverable.

Let's be honest, there are a lot of memories that are not important to anyone but the one who remembers them. When I die nobody will know which pair of socks I liked best, but the loss of this knowledge is hardly a loss for the human race. Even if I were write down the things about my life that I consider to be the most important in an autobiography, how many people would read it? Humanity is not interested in the thoughts and memories of random people.

Write down the few happenings and memories that were relevant for (a large part of) the human race. The rest can be forgotten.

> That is a horrible thing that needs to be stopped at all costs, unless the person willfully chooses to do so.

I don't like people who are willing to accomplish some goal 'at all costs'.

Re:The further this research goes... (2, Interesting)

Dusthead Jr. (937949) | more than 5 years ago | (#25602367)

How do you explain YouTube? Humanity might not be interested in the thoughts of random people, but other randome people are.

Re:The further this research goes... (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25603825)

i'm guessing you're not over 50 years old.

even ordinary people can have extraordinary memories and experiences to share with others. just think about all the old people who lived through World War II, the civil rights movement, the birth of the modern computer, etc. there are a lot of things that we take for granted in our lives that future generations might be interested in but have no way of finding out about. imagine if we had access to the memories of just one person who lived during the height of the Roman Empire. it doesn't matter if he was a lowly slave or Caesar himself, his memories would provide invaluable insight into the culture & history of his period.

even outside of an anthropological context, the memories of ordinary people can still have innate value to others. imagine if everyone's memories are archived in a public database after they die. you could walk into a library and jack into someone's inner experiences and relive them as if they were your own. imagine being able to see through the eyes of someone who attended the original Woodstock in '69, being able to hear the bands playing on stage, and smell the smells that filled the air. imagine being able to relive the memories and experiences of a synesthete, an idiot-savant, or even someone who was mentally insane.

if you think more globally, it's easy to see appeal of being able to walk a day in the shoes of someone living in Japan, Italy, France, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, etc. they could be an elementary school teacher, a veterinarian, a plumber, a librarian, a college student, etc. it doesn't really matter.

just because you can't write a bestselling autobiography doesn't mean your memories are worthless to others. i mean, you can't really reduce an entire life's worth of experiences into a single book, or a million books for that matter. memories preserve things that can't necessarily be verbalized or transcribed in words.

Re:The further this research goes... (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25624235)

even ordinary people can have extraordinary memories and experiences to share with others. just think about all the old people who lived through World War II, the civil rights movement, the birth of the modern computer, etc. there are a lot of things that we take for granted in our lives that future generations might be interested in but have no way of finding out about

Exactly!

I work a lot with local history programs, where school teachers go out into their communities and interview the elderly... the stories these guys have collected from "ordinary" people in the community is nothing short of amazing. If you think about the changes that a 100 year old Native American lady has seen in California since she was born, she doesn't need to do something "heroic" to have all sorts of interesting stories to tell. I've worked on various projects which archive these stories... it's really amazing stuff.

Of course, people like the GP would probably pooh-pooh the story of one old white guy I know, who was bailed from jail by Martin Luther King, Jr., and probably saved his life, since the racist white guys in the cell were thinking about killing him for participating in the Civil Rights movement... I mean, who knew that story? Isn't it meaningful? Doesn't it tell us something about King, and about the white people that were involved in the Civil Rights movement?

Re:The further this research goes... (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25688351)

Every memory is important, regardless the place, incidence, or time. That's why it's such a tragedy to even lose one of those memories.

And we lose millions of them per day.

Re:The further this research goes... (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25691045)

>>Every memory is important, regardless the place, incidence, or time. That's why it's such a tragedy to even lose one of those memories.
>>And we lose millions of them per day.

That's why I livejournal!

Re:The further this research goes... (1)

pu'u_bear (137654) | more than 5 years ago | (#25617579)

I wish you were correct, but:
http://www.facebook.com/ [facebook.com]
Appears to indicate the opposite...

It's not tragic at all? (5, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25602101)

Death is a part of the natural renewal of things. It is a short life span and the continual and restarting of youth that allows humanity to not only change its education but its social attitudes.

Mourn the ones we lose, for sure, but ultimately, death is necessary. Without death, young people could never remake the world with each generation, and we'd be stuck forever with the weirdness of the old. Sometimes we old people, instead of clinging to life, just need accept that we're going to die.

Re:It's not tragic at all? (2, Interesting)

Roxton (73137) | more than 5 years ago | (#25602783)

As we get older, couldn't we just adopt a social system that makes us older instead of, you know, dying? Killing off the elderly is a pretty ham-handed solution.

Unless you're just trying to rationalize the inevitable, in which case your sentiment is total garbage.

Re:It's not tragic at all? (2, Insightful)

Roxton (73137) | more than 5 years ago | (#25602805)

If that's your concern, couldn't we just adopt a social system where we get less relevant as we age? Killing off the elderly is a pretty fucking ham-handed solution.

Unless you're just trying to rationalize the inevitable, in which case your sentiment is total garbage.

Re:It's not tragic at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25602811)

Your statement makes no sense. If there would be no death, then obviously everyone would stay young making you statement about old folks irrelevant.

Re:It's not tragic at all? (2, Interesting)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | more than 5 years ago | (#25603139)

His point is that if old people didn't die, McCain would win the election due to his demographic strength with them.

Re:It's not tragic at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25607197)

no he wouldn't, eugene debs would win.

Re:It's not tragic at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25604223)

Death is a part of the natural renewal of things.

Said the poster on Slashdot. If we were 'natural' we'd be discussing this whilst running away from a a lion trying to eat our sorry asses out on the Serengeti or something.

Natural is overrated.

Re:It's not tragic at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25604745)

That sounds an awful lot like the naturalistic fallacy to me.

Re:It's not tragic at all? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 5 years ago | (#25605821)

Don't you think that one of the reasons for "weirdness" of old folks is not old age per se, but rather bitterness and frustration that comes with realisation that their end is becoming quite an immediate issue?

Together with lots of young folks around enjoying their life this might lead to fixating oneself on memories of youth, perhaps also convincing oneself that the life was better when she/he were young (so it's easier to disregard "youth festival" around). For that it's only natural to clinge to outdated social concepts...

In other words (and relating to last sentence of your post) - weirdness comes from accepting death, from not clinging to life. From not having the technological means to do that. Yet (and unfortunatelly...it might be a long time...)

Re:It's not tragic at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25606201)

I wonder if you will feel that same way on the day you die?

Re:It's not tragic at all? (1)

idlemachine (732136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25607101)

Death is humanity's refresh cycle.

Re:It's not tragic at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25607439)

You are making a choice for others. If you think you should die, than by all means do so.

Think about it. If there was a choice involved the only people that would remain will be the ones that choose to go on. People like you will become extinct. Everyone wins!

Nobody is looking for the kind of immortality where you have a mental prowess of a 5 year old by the time you are 130. If perpetual youth can be achieved there would be no "weirdness of the old" because nobody would ever become old and static.

Re:The further this research goes... (1)

the-advanced-lemon (1398813) | more than 5 years ago | (#25605217)

Well I'm a Christian, so for me, that cost has already been paid...

Re:The further this research goes... (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25605321)

No. By far, the most tragic happening of a human is that we die.

If people ceased to die on their own, it would become necessary to kill them [imdb.com] . That's a tragedy of another kind.

Re:The further this research goes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25607527)

Or stop reproducing.

Forever despairing of failures?! (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#25603463)

...immortal memory. That would be both good and bad. We would forever despair of our failures.

What is it with people, thinking that failures have to haunt us forever? Failures are how people learn. There are such a things as closure, adaptation, pattern recognition, sublimation, and basic personal growth. You start failing before you're born, when you can't move your arms how you'd like to, can't interpret the images you're seeing, etc. Life is about facing these challenges, overcoming them, and enjoying the progress you've made.

Really...? (1, Funny)

fractalVisionz (989785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601275)

I thought they were just worms that you got from that bad truck-stop sandwich jazzercising your brain.

Re:Really...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25604613)

Whomever moded parent overrated obviously didn't get the Futurama reference.

Random musings about calcium (4, Funny)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601315)

myosin Vb molecule in hippocampal neurons responded to a flow of calcium ions

"So remember to drink your milk, boys and girls, or you will forget how to."

Applications and deeper questions (2, Interesting)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601347)

On a more serious note...

"We all know"---I really ought to find an article that backs me up on this, but I've heard it enough times from random sources so it must be true---we all know that breast milk is very good for babies.

I'm wondering whether there's a large amount of calcium in breast milk, and whether that influences the babies' ability to form memories. The summary doesn't say whether the calcium acts as a "mere" catalyst or is used up in the process; but in any case, I'd guess that more is good.

[I also really should check whether calcium crosses the blood-brain barrier]

We can also contemplate applications. Is "forward amnesia"* caused by calcium not being where it needs to be in large enough amounts? Can we wrap calcium in a road map that guides it there and cures the amnesia?

* forward amnesia: the kind where you remember everything up to the point where you got it, but don't form new memories after that very well or at all. As opposed to retrograde amnesia, where you remember well after the point where you got it, but poorly or not at all what happened before it.

Google can probably give me answers, but I can't remember how to use it. I haven't had my milk today :)

Re:Applications and deeper questions (1)

daniel_newby (1335811) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601379)

I'm wondering whether there's a large amount of calcium in breast milk, and whether that influences the babies' ability to form memories.

Yes. No.

Long term (weeks to years) calcium balance is tightly controlled by regulating absorption and excretion. The short term (hours) level of free calcium in the blood is tightly regulated by adding or removing it from the large stores in the bones. These regulatory processes keep the amount of free calcium in the brain more or less constant under healthy conditions. If dietary calcium levels are low or high enough to have a big effect on memory formation, it is likely that drastic damage has already been done to other organs (bones, teeth, kidneys).

Re:Applications and deeper questions (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25601725)

The summary doesn't say whether the calcium acts as a "mere" catalyst or is used up in the process; but in any case, I'd guess that more is good.

The calcium (Ca2+) signal is just due to a very temporary Ca2+ influx into the cell. The Ca2+ stems from the extracellular fluid and from intracellular Ca2+ stores. After excitation, Ca2+ gets immediately pumped out of the cytosol. None gets used up. (This is only half the truth: Some Ca2+ signals are lasting for minutes to hours.)

[I also really should check whether calcium crosses the blood-brain barrier]

It does. Calcium signaling is essential not only for muscle action, but also for nerve cell signaling (and many other cell types use Ca2+ signaling, too).

We can also contemplate applications. Is "forward amnesia"* caused by calcium not being where it needs to be in large enough amounts?

Anterograde amnesia is usually induced by drugs (AFAIK the mechanism how that works is completely unknown) or by traumatic brain injury to regions responsible for memory formation, i. e., damage to the medial temporal lobe and especially the hippocampus. Concerning the drugs (benzodiazepines), they target GABAA receptors, thereby inhibiting neuronal signaling. That is, they have indeed some influence on Ca2+ signaling, too, but they also influence action potentials induced by Na+/K+ signaling ... saying anterograde amnesia is caused by lack of Ca2+ is a little far stretched.

Google can probably give me answers, but I can't remember how to use it. I haven't had my milk today :)

The main reason you should specifically care about your diet containing enough Ca2+ is that Na+ and Cl- and most other minerals are abundant (concerning Na+: far too abundant) in almost any food we eat. Therefore, you will almost never suffer from lack of Na+, but lack of the more rare Ca2+. (Lack of Na+ would be very detrimental to neuronal action and to your health, too: In a desert you lose very much NaCl and therefore you have to uptake large amounts of salt--and of course even more water ...)

Re:Applications and deeper questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25614007)

(Lack of Na+ would be very detrimental to neuronal action and to your health, too: In a desert you lose very much NaCl and therefore you have to uptake large amounts of salt--and of course even more water ...)

On that thought, would the diminishing of NaCl through excessive sweating in a desert environment potentially lead to the hallucinations, or mirages, that are so often described by those not accustomed or prepared for desert aridity?

Re:Applications and deeper questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25632077)

(Lack of Na+ would be very detrimental to neuronal action and to your health, too: In a desert you lose very much NaCl and therefore you have to uptake large amounts of salt--and of course even more water ...)

On that thought, would the diminishing of NaCl through excessive sweating in a desert environment potentially lead to the hallucinations, or mirages, that are so often described by those not accustomed or prepared for desert aridity?

Me(the AC from above)thinks hallucinations are more directly caused by loss of water. (Suffering from too little NaCl means that you have to lose tons of sweat and drink lots of water. In the desert, hallucinating people usually neither have salt nor water.) People accustomed to such an arid climate may be a little less susceptible to water drain.

Well, there are some very basic and well-balanced equilibria inside our body: the amount of water in or bloodstream and in the lymphatic system, the osmolarity (for the layman: total salt concentration) of these fluids, their pH value, and finally: the concentrations of specific ions in blood and lymph. Our brain is so sensitive[1] concerning these basic equilibria that a small change in any of these factors will lead to hallucinations. So, yes, if you travel the desert with enough water and too little NaCl in your diet, your hallucinations will be caused mainly by lack of NaCl.

[1] Of course, drugs that have special signaling capabilities (such as LSD and lots of other drugs) are much more potent for generating hallucinations.

Re:Applications and deeper questions (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601995)

> Google can probably give me answers, but I can't remember how to use it. I haven't had my milk today :)

Adults drinking milk is a neat trick that has only been with us for about 10000 years. Milk is not required in the diet of adults (people from some parts of the world can't even digest it properly). Unless you have a diet-related disorder, such as diabetes, you don't usually have to worry about your food if you have at least some variety* in your diet. If you eat enough different stuff, your body will usually be able to get what it needs.

* Eating two different brands of fries != variety :p

Re:Applications and deeper questions (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25603051)

"Eating two different brands of fries != variety "

That's no problem, just use different dips - tomato sauce, mayonnaise, etc.

Re:Applications and deeper questions (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 5 years ago | (#25604607)

The word you are looking for is Anterograde Amnesia, not forward amnesia, though we get your point. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anterograde_amnesia [wikipedia.org]

Re:Applications and deeper questions (1)

badkarmadayaccount (1346167) | more than 5 years ago | (#25614787)

Hmmm, both GABAnergic compounds (GHB, ethanol, sleeping pills) and weed block calcium channels, so that would explain the amnesia they create. But why do GABAnergic ones cause retrograde amnesia, while THC et al. fuck up short term memory? BTW, would the recpetors being moved in question happen to be serotonine ones? I really need to get rrid of the downer after taking XTC, GHB covers the dopamine part, but serotonine receptors need to be kept at the surface if I'm gonna roll for a week. Druggie genius over and out.

Re:Random musings about calcium (2, Funny)

ozbird (127571) | more than 5 years ago | (#25601739)

myosin Vb molecule in hippocampal neurons responded to a flow of calcium ions

"So remember to drink your milk, boys and girls, or you will forget how to."

Forget milk; drink Vb [fosters.com.au] and alter your synapses directly.

Re:Random musings about calcium (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25602227)

myosin Vb molecule in hippocampal neurons responded to a flow of calcium ions

"So remember to drink your milk, boys and girls, or you will forget how to."

Forget milk; drink Vb [fosters.com.au] and alter your synapses directly.

Such a pity it's the eqivilent of Visual Basic in the beer drinking world... i.e. it's bloody awful.

Re:Random musings about calcium (1)

RockWolf (806901) | more than 5 years ago | (#25606203)

I'd rather not... Boags' Premium for me. Doesn't leave you wanting to gouge your tastebuds out with a corkscrew. ;)

our friend, calcium (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25601491)

don't get too fixated on the calcium aspect of the story, its not important. Calcium is needed for growing bones and for muscle contraction. As well as for loads of other bodily processes including learning and memory creation. However, simply supplying calcium to the brain will not help in curing amnesia. This is largely caused by some sort of large-scale structural problem inside the brain. Calcium influx into depolarized cells is only one step in a long line of things that has to happen for memory creation to occur. So drinking lots of milk won't give you super-memory powers. Though, it might be memorable by the amount of time you spend on the toilet pissing out of you ass.

Geek test dumbies! (1)

Troll14 (1395683) | more than 5 years ago | (#25602025)

I, For one, will take part in a test study where the scientists will actually try to learn how to read these memory molecules. In my memory they will find two main images. Lolcats.com, and pr0nz.

Vb helps memory development (1)

noigmn (929935) | more than 5 years ago | (#25602133)

Australian's have known about the importance of Vb for years.

Err...yeah (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 5 years ago | (#25602353)

I am generally cautious whenever some researcher makes some discovery and goes "blah blah blah this IS what memory IS blah blah autism blah blah epilepsy blah blah addiction blah blah Alzheimer's blah blah blah"

Anyway, the point is that it is highly unlikely that this ONE molecule can be implicated in that many disorders. It sounds to me like this guy may have found something very important in regulating one neurotransmitter, but fails to say which one. All of the disorders he mentions do deal with some sort of synaptic malfunction, but I am skeptical about one molecule being a part of all of them. Some of these disorders focus on different brain regions, are matters of cell death, or synaptic excitation or inhibition. I don't think it is likely that this one molecule is the bullet (even if it has different malfunctions for different disorders). The guy is in love with his results.

But, if I am wrong and this does pan out well for him, I could see a free trip to Sweden in his future.

Re:Err...yeah (1)

X-p3riMental (1398811) | more than 5 years ago | (#25603833)

While you are very right in pointing out that a single molecule is very unlikely to instigate so many disorders, the mechanism by which this molecule acts (assuming it is upstream of all of the issues associated with the disorders) could be extremely useful in stepping around the issues.
Biological systems are amazingly complex, but they tend to depend on very simple causal chains that have a lot of permutations which depend on the outcomes of other chains (similar to the neuronal structure of the brain). When a researcher talks about their findings being useful in treating a variety of disorders, they don't mean that you could tamper with their single molecule and fix everything, they are just pointing out that their findings represent another link in those chains.
In the case of myosin Vb, it could become the target of a variety of drugs that modify synaptic strength. Increasing the strength would be useful in the treatment of alzheimers and reducing the response to specific neurotransmitters would be helpful in blocking addiction. These treatments would require connections with other research from areas such as metabolism, neurotransmitter-receptor mechanisms and neurotransmitter behaviours.
The main reason researchers try to inflate the significance of their research like this is because funding is hard to come by in biology unless you can tie in medical relevance (no matter how tenuously).

Re:Err...yeah (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 5 years ago | (#25603973)

True, but the *likelihood* that this molecule does those things is quite small. The "we can connect our discovery to anything" approach that is occurring in some of the neuroscience areas could easily become a "boy who cried wolf" scenario. I can't think of how many articles I read recently where, someone is like "we've got XYZ solved!!" only to never hear anything about that research again.

The bottom line is that too many news stories lead the public to believe that we are way further ahead than we are on solving certain issues, or that we have a breakthrough when as you correctly pointed out, we have only maybe found another piece of the puzzle.

I mean, even the onion has started making jokes about this sort of thing: http://www.theonion.com/content/news/son_of_a_bitch_mouse_solves_maze [theonion.com]

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25602477)

What was this article about again?

The human brain is full of VB? (5, Funny)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 5 years ago | (#25602603)

At least now we know why it's so unstable

Pretty little memories (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 5 years ago | (#25604183)

"These endosomes are like little memories waiting to get stoned ."

How much is it? (1)

vikasap (1329417) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608669)

Now that they have found it, who is going to measure its capacity. I simply hope it turns out to be in peta's.
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