Scientists have discovered more about the role of an important brain protein which is instrumental in translating learning into long-term memories. Writing in Nature Neuroscience, they said further research into the Arc protein's role could help in finding new ways to fight neurological diseases.
The same protein may also be a factor in autism, the study said. Recent research found Arc lacking in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.
Dr Steve Finkbeiner, professor of neurology and physiology at the University of California, who led the research at Gladstone Institutes, said lab work showed that the role of the Arc protein was crucial.
"Scientists knew that Arc was involved in long-term memory, because mice lacking the Arc protein could learn new tasks, but failed to remember them the next day," he said.
Further experiments revealed that Arc acted as a "master regulator" of the neurons during the process of long-term memory formation.