Single Protein Keeps Mouse Brains Youthful

04:06 EDT 9 Aug 2017 | Genetic Engineering News

As we get older our brains lose plasticity, essentially the ability to adapt to stimuli and experiences.  In the visual cortex, for example, brain plasticity appears to be maintained during a ‘critical window’ of time during early childhood, and once this window has closed it doesn’t normally reopen. This explains why some conditions, such as lazy eye, can be corrected in young children, but not when we get older. Studies by scientists at the University of Utah Health and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) now suggest that increasing the expression of a single gene know as Arc in the visual cortex of older mice effectively reopens that window of plasticity. Although the studies were carried out in animal models, it isn’t unreasonable to project that if the same mechanisms are at work in human brains, then boosting levels of Arc could feasibly help to prevent the natural ...

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