According to research from the University of Queensland, saturated fatty acid levels rise unexpectedly in the brain during memory formation, opening up a new avenue of research into how memories are made.
Dr. Tristan Wallis, from the laboratory of Professor Frederic Meunier of the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at UQ, traditionally said: polyunsaturated fatty acids were considered important for health and memory, but this study highlighted the unexpected role of saturated fatty acids.
“We tested the most common fatty acids to see how their levels change as new memories formed in the brain,” Dr. Wallis.
“Unexpectedly, saturated changes fat levels in brain cells were the most marked, especially that of myristic acid, which is found in coconut oil and butter.
“In the kitchen, saturated fats are those that are solid at room temperature, while unsaturated fats are usually liquid.
“The brain is the fattest organ in the body, with 60% fat, which provides energy, structure and helps transmit messages between brain cells.
“Fatty acids are the basic components of lipids or fats and are vital for communication between nerve cells, as they help synaptic vesicles—Microscopic bags containing neurotransmitters— to fuse with the cell membrane and transmit messages between cells.
“It simply came to our notice then brain cells they communicate with each other on a plate, increasing levels of saturated fatty acids. “
Researchers have found that levels of fatty acids in the rat brain, especially saturated fatty acids, increase as memories form, but when they used a drug to block learning and memory formation in rats, fatty acid levels did not change.
The highest concentration of saturates fatty acids was found in the amygdala, the part of the brain involved in the formation of new memories specifically related to fear and strong emotions.
Professor Pankaj Sah, collaborator of the study and director of QBI, said the work opened a new avenue on how memory was formed.
“This research has enormous implications for our understanding of synaptic plasticity: the change that occurs in the junctions between neurons that allow them to communicate, learn, and build memories,” Professor Sah said.
This work is published in Communications on Nature and with support from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and a grant from the Australian Research Council.
Tristan P. Wallis et al, Saturated free fatty acids and association with memory formation, Communications on Nature (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-021-23840-3
Provided by the Queensland Brain Institute
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