These Newly Discovered Brain Cells Might Open Up New Dementia Treatments


Belokhonov Nikita / UCR

If being shuttered away for the last two years has got you feeling like you’re operating on your last two brain cells, that might not be a stretch—at least as far as your memory goes. In a new study published on Monday in Nature Neuroscience, scientists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and other research institutions have discovered what two cells in the human brain mastermind our ability to store and retrieve information—a breakthrough that not only helps shed light on the murky processes that govern memory, but could also open the door to creating more effective strategies to combat memory disorders associated with aging and diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Since the first memory experiments run by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus in the 19th century, scientists have learned a ton about what parts of the brain (like the hippocampus) are involved in memory, and how our minds seem to store information into discrete events, or episodes. But one nagging question has always remained: How and what determines the start and end of a memory?

“Our brain is [constantly] getting a continuous stream of sensory information,” Stephen Maren, a behavioral neuroscientist at Texas A&M University, who was not involved in the study, told The Daily Beast. “How we lump it into these experiences, how those boundaries are created, and how we form events in memory really isn’t known.”

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