Chao, et al. Journal of Neuroscience, 2013.
Memory, from your earliest thoughts to today’s grocery list, is a complex process necessary for cognition. The ability to form long-term memories requires changes in the synapses — the structures neurons use to transmit information.
To better understand how these changes take place, scientists genetically altered mice to lack a molecule that supports the synapse. They found that neurons in mice without this molecule (pictured in white) compensate by generating larger dendritic spines — the visible bumps on the tree-like branches above — compared with normal mice (pictured in green). This small change improved memory in the mice.