Neurons in the brain interact by sending each other chemical messages, so-called neurotransmitters. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the most common inhibitory neurotransmitter, which is important to restrain neural activity, preventing neurons from getting too trigger-happy and from firing too much or responding to irrelevant stimuli.
Researchers led by Dr Tobias Bast in the School of Psychology at The University of Nottingham have found that faulty inhibitory neurotransmission and abnormally increased activity in the hippocampus impairs our memory and attention.
Their latest research – “Hippocampal neural disinhibition causes attentional and memory deficits” – published in the academic journal Cerebral Cortex, has implications for understanding cognitive deficits in a variety of brain disorders, including schizophrenia, age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s, and for the treatment of cognitive deficits.
The hippocampus – a part of the brain that sits within our temporal lobes – plays a major role in our everyday memory of events and of where and when they happen – for example remembering where we parked our car before going shopping.
This research has shown that a lack of restraint in the neural firing within the hippocampus disrupts hippocampus-dependent memory; in addition, such aberrant neuron firing within the hippocampus also disrupted attention – a cognitive function that does not normally require the hippocampus.
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