Mount Sinai Scientists Research the Effect of Aging on Learning and Memory with Stereo Investigator
How do you find the volume of a sphere? It is a question that you’ve answered on math exams stretching all the way back to the sixth grade, but the formula eludes your brain. What is it that causes you to forget something that has been ingrained in your brain
Dr. John Morrison of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Peter R. Rapp, PHD and other researchers have determined the specific types of nerve cells that diminish with age. With the help of Stereo Investigator, they’ve seen that these nerve cells—spines–play an important role in the learning process within the brain. As a person ages, the number of spines decreases in the brain, and that makes it all the more difficult to both learn and retain new information.
By administering delayed response testing to rhesus monkeys the team started to understand their learning skills. These tests challenged the monkeys’ memory by delayed non-matching-to-sample and delayed response tasks. Increasing the amount of time a reward was hidden challenged the monkeys’ memories. When the reward was hidden for longer periods of time, older monkeys showed slower response times compared to the younger monkeys.
Once the delayed response testing portion of the study was complete, Dr. Morrison explained that he and his team used Stereo Investigator to calculate the volume of cortical area 46 in the monkey’s brains. “We use [MBF Bioscience] software often to trace loaded neurons,” he added.
Dani Dumitriu, Jiandong Hao, Yuko Hara, Jeffrey Kaufmann, William G. M. Janssen, Wendy Lou, Peter R. Rapp, John H. Morrison, “Selective Changes in Thin Spine Density and Morphology in Monkey Prefrontal Cortex Correlate with Aging-Related Cognitive Impairment” (The Journal of Neuroscience, June 2, 2010, 30(22):7507–7515