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Protein identified with memory

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MONTREAL, Aug 30, 2005 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Researchers say they have discovered a protein that might be a master regulator of the switch from short-term to long-term memory.

The scientists determined the protein GCN2 inhibits conversion of new information into long-term memory.

The discovery provides the first genetic evidence that protein synthesis is critical for memory formation and regulation.

The work by researchers at McGill University and the University of Montreal in Canada and New York University in the United States sheds light on the workings of the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

"Not all new information we acquire is stored as long-term memory," said Mauro Costa-Mattioli, the study's lead author. "For example, it takes most people a number of attempts to learn new things, such as memorizing a passage from a book. The first few times we may initially succeed in memorizing the passage, but the memory may not be stored completely in the brain and we will have to study the passage again."

The scientists believe their discovery may hold promise in the treatment of illnesses linked with memory.

The research appeared in the August 25th issue of the journal Nature.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International.

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