First Impressions: Large Tiny Structures Where New Memories Form


Feng-Ju Weng PhD, Rodrigo Garcia PhD


Rodrigo Garcia, Feng-Ju (Eddie) Weng, Yingxi Lin
McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT

Memories are made and processed in the hippocampus. However, only one specific connection within it governs the encoding of new memories. Uniquely large axons (green) carrying the new information synapse onto complex, one-of-a-kind spines on these dendrites (red).

The Lin Lab studies Npas4, a gene that regulates not only the strength and size of these connections (green and red), but also the proteins (blue) located at these synapses. Examining the relationship between structure and function as these neurons interact at the cellular and molecular level, researchers can get a better picture of how memories are made.

This work was featured in MIT News on February 8, 2018.