Memory loss from age or disease may be due in part to molecular and structural changes in the hippocampus. Rhesus monkeys experience age-related memory decline similar to humans and are therefore good models for studies of cognitive aging.
In a recent study in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers tested the ability of young and old monkeys to recognize objects. They then examined the locations of synaptic proteins in parts of the hippocampus, a brain area involved in memory. They found older monkeys had less of the proteins in specific dendritic spines, the parts of neurons that receive signals.
The image above shows a 3D reconstruction of different neuron parts from the monkey hippocampus. Red, orange, yellow, and green represent individual dendritic segments, while blue represents the parts of axons that send signals. Discovering potential mechanisms of memory preservation in aging populations may reveal new targets for treating cognitive decline.
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