Breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research at VIB

Summary

Researchers at Flanders’ life sciences research institute have discovered that neural activity in the retrosplenial cortex could be key to helping treat dementia

Similar mechanisms

Researchers from Flemish life sciences research institute VIB have identified a crucial mechanism responsible for navigational skills and spatial memory in the brain. The results of the study, published in Nature Communications, may help patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

The main region of the brain that is responsible for navigation and memory is the hippocampus. The retrosplenial cortex, however, is also very active in memory retrieval and connects the hippocampus to the visual cortex and other areas of the brain. Damage to the retrosplenial cortex results in disorientation and memory loss.

VIB researchers have discovered through experiments on mice that a similar cellular mechanism that affects the hippocampus can also assist spatial orientation in the retrosplenial cortex. They used an innovative cellular imaging technique, with which they could monitor the activity of hundreds of thousands of neurons simultaneously in order to get a view into the neurons’ patterns of activity.

“The next step is to investigate the relationship between activity in the retrosplenial cortex and in the hippocampus,” said VIB professor Vincent Bonin, who led the research. “We also need to establish how activity in the retrosplenial cortex relates to the development of neurological diseases.”

Photo: Ingimage