If you ever noticed how much more difficult it is to learn a new language as you age, you can realize how less adaptive the brain become as you get older. Adults have a more difficult time learning new concepts than children do because children's brains are more flexible. The Nogo Receptor 1 gene has been shown to lead to the maturation of the brain, decreasing its neuroplasticity. With this gene identified, scientists wanted to see if the adult brain in mice can change back to the more plastic brain function of adolescent mice through gene knockout. When researchers blocked this gene in aging mice, they noticed that these mutated mice continued to have juvenile brain function even into adulthood. Even more interesting is that adult mice that had this gene blocked had their rigid adult brain revert back to a more malleable juvenile brain.
The inhibition of the Nogo Receptor 1 gene can have some potential human applications including overcoming traumatic experiences, recovering from brain damage, and having better learning abilities. People who suffer from brain injuries like stroke most go through rehabilitation to redevelop certain movement skills. Brain-injured mice that had this gene blocked were able to learn motor tasks faster than wild type mice. This indicates that stroke patients could potentially have quicker rehab times if the gene is blocked in humans.
Another interesting discovery was that Nogo receptors lead to slower memory loss. Mice that had this gene blocked had a faster ability to forget stressful memories. This discovery could potentially help people with post-traumatic stress disorder because it could help sufferers get past traumatic events. The only question that I had was how would the inhibition of the Nogo Receptor 1 gene affect personalities in humans?
Posted by Poya Jafari (2)