MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A recent study co-authored by Bernard Schreurs, Ph.D., professor at the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, and his colleagues studied the changes in the properties of neurons and membranes as a response to learning.
“We’re trying to understand the basic building blocks of learning and memory,” Dr. Schreurs said. “We’re looking at what happens in the brain when any organism, including humans, learns to associate two things.”
The study examined the changes that occur in the neural mechanisms of the brain as a result of learning and memory. Using whole cell recording of deep cerebellar nuclear neurons (DCN) and a transsynaptic viral tracer, researchers found motor learning induced significant changes in membrane properties of rat DCN projection neurons.
“What the researchers in the lab were able to show is that in the animals that learned, their brain cells, in fact, did change,” Schreurs said. “It was not just the connections between them, but the cells themselves. This is the first time anyone has ever shown that the membrane properties of these neurons in this area of the brain change as a function of learning.”
The study, titled “Changes in membrane properties of rat deep cerebellar nuclear projection neurons during acquisition of eyeblink conditioning,” was published today (Aug. 27) in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, one of the world’s most-cited and comprehensive multidisciplinary scientific journals.