CogniFit's Science blog: New Details Reveal Neurotransmitters That Assist With Process Of Forgetting

New Details Reveal Neurotransmitters That Assist With Process Of Forgetting

Neuroscience is a fascinating field that constantly impresses with new information in aspects of life that affect so many of us. The brain is the central tool of our life.

While it is mind-boggling how much we do know about the brain, it is even more extraordinary how much there is still to learn. And the latest findings by scientists prove just that. Scientists have stumbled upon neurotransmitters that actually lead to forgetting.

For years on end researchers and doctors have always looked at memory as a way to hold onto and preserve those ever-so-crucial ideas and facts about ourselves. What has gone overlooked is the importance of forgetting the treacherous moments and the bad memories that occurred at some point.

One thing that cannot be denied is that we are going to be forgetful from time to time; everyone does. At the same time, little is known in the world of neuroscience as to how we learn to forget painful memories.

A new study indulges readers on this very topic pinpointing a mechanism that is crucial to forming memories in the first place. Along with this, it shows how this mechanism works to eliminate the memories after they have been formed as well.

The focus of the study was on the molecular biology of active forgetting. Most had long believed that forgetting is a passive response, but the new findings show that it is actually an active process that is regulated to some degree.

Researchers identified this by taking fruit flies and put them in situations where they learned certain smells were associated with positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement. From there, they watched the flies behavior and the changes that were made in the flies’ brains.

The end result showed that a small amount of dopamine neurons would regulate the acquisition of memories and forgetting of the memories after learning. It also shares that when a new memory is first formed, an active, dopamine-based forgetting mechanism also exists.

This begins to erase specific memories unless there is true importance and meaning attached to the memories. So what does the neuroscience study show? It explains that specific neurons in the brain release dopamine in two different receptors located on mushroom bodies.

It found that one of the receptors is crucial for memory acquisition while the other is needed for forgetting. Once the signaling process begins, receptors responsible for memory acquisition become overstimulated thus forming memories. If the memory is acquired the same dopamine neurons continue signaling.