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Bu s i n e s s Ma g a z i n e | Ap r i l 2 0 11

CREB? Its a
molecule that
dwells inside
a brain cell,
and it serves
to trigger
synthesis for
new synaptic
a brain cells
own Velcro
skills.; Semantic memory for facts; Declarative
memory for our identity.
These discoveries due to Henrys loss of
his hippocampus made an impression on
Kandel which interested him into the feld
of neuropsychology as opposed to his orig-
inal aspiration to become a psychoanalyst.
As a reductionist, he chose to start his frst
experiments on aplysia, a giant marine snail
which has only 20,000 neurons. This exper-
iment only focused on the implicit or pro-
cedural memory of the slugs. Through this,
he discovered that neurons had links, called
synapses, which grew stronger by passing
electro chemical signals that reinforced the
relationship. These signals were produced as
a behavior was repeated, hence proving the
use-it-or-lose-it credo. Through these rela-
tionships between neurons, Kandel believed
there was a mechanism that allowed for
conversion of short to long term memories.
Blocking the CREB molecule in one of the
neurons disrupted this conversation, thus
erasing the memory. He concluded that it
was the CREB gene which allowed the con-
version of memories. In addition, Kandel
stated that mice ofered a superb genetic
system for examining the role of individual
genes in synaptic modifcation on the one
hand, and intact behavior - explicit memory
storage - on the other, to which he focused
the rest of his research on the hippocampus.
Subsequent to this, Kandels company today
researches into this red pill for enhancing
CREB and avoid memory loss due to age.
However, the pill creates obvious issues with
ethics. What if the pill creates a kind of nos-
talgic incontinence? What if we are unable
to control the mental clutter it brings forth?
There are just some of the arguements pre-
sented against this pill, but the main question
still stands, Will you take the pill?
THE LITTLE RED PILL, as Eric Kandel calls
it, helps us tackle age-related memory
loss. Memory Pharmeuciticals, Eric Kandels
company, is working on exactly that.
However, the history of the research put
into this pill dates all the way back to the year
1953, when the view on everything we knew
about the brain changed drastically.
In Hartford, Connecticut, Dr. Scoville worked
as a neurosurgeon and operated on Henry,
a young man facing epilepsy. Dr. Scovilles
approach to curing Henry invovled elimi-
nating the hippocampus, the part of the
brain which caused the seizures. After the
surgery, despite the fact that the seizures dis-
appeared, it was found that the hippocam-
pus was the royal seat for rememebering,
thus diabling him from creating new mem-
ories. This meant that although he would
be able to recognize his mother, he would
easily forget the nurse who just intoduced
herself in a matter of minutes. Yet, despite
this tragedy which would leave Henry no
comfort, it resulted in a number of psycho-
logical advances. Dr. Scoville, to begin with,
made his contribution by concluding that
Karl Lashley was wrong. Karl Lashley, a dom-
inant neuropsychologist, had concluded
that memory was scattered throughout the
cortex rather than being localized to a spe-
cifc part of the brain. According to Henrys
case, it became clear that memory could be
pinpointed like a country on a map. Brenda
Milner, to move on, used Henrys case to
identify the seperate memory systems that
exist in our minds. Actions like brushing our
teeth, or walking, is also stored in our minds
as memory. However, since Henry was still
able to brush his teeth, when given a tooth-
brush, and walk, it proved that our brain is
divided so each part serves a specifc funtion.
Procedural memory exists to store motor