Pill to Improve Memory
It has happened to everyone. You can’t recall a name or you forget your credit card PIN number. Rather than waiting two weeks for a new one to arrive in the mail, wouldn’t it be great if there were a pill you could swallow to pop that lost memory back into your head? That is essentially what a team of neurobiologists from The Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn have been able to accomplish in experiments on rats—enhance a dim memory by boosting an enzyme in the rat’s brain called protein kinase M zeta (PKM zeta).
Memory is easily disrupted—a bump on the head will do it. Despite the need for a drug to treat amnesia and memory loss accompanying many forms of dementia, scientists have been stymied to find a way to strengthen the formation of new memories or to improve recall of memories that have faded. Many drugs prevent memories from sticking, and there are even drugs to “erase” powerful memories of traumatic events, but so far the highly desired “smart pill” has remained elusive. Scientists reporting in the March 4, 2011 edition of Science claim to have found a new way to boost the formation of memories and to enhance recall of existing memories that have weakened.