The art of forgetting: microglia eats memories away in mice

As important as remembering, it is forgetting. As Sherlock Holmes said the brain is like a room that you furnish with memories but where space is limited and unnecesary information should be erased. Much on how this erasing works is unkown, but a new study points out to a certain immune cell population in the brain, the microglia, to be key in pruning away memories in mice.

astroglia key in forgetting in mice
By GerryShaw – Astroglia Z-stack confocal image made with 100X lens on Olympus FV1000 microscope.

Microglia are a type of glial cells in the central nervous system (CNS). This “supporting” cells are the macrophages of the brain. And as such are the first immune barrier in the nervous system. It is known that during maturation of the CNS, many synapses -contacts between neurons- are pruned, that is, lost. And microglial cells are involved in this synaptic erasing. Therefore, the hypothesis was if they would also be involved in general memory loss, since they are also known to paly a role in neurodegenerative diseases.

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