A New Theory of Memory Encoding, Consolidation, Degradation and Retrieval , Is Memory Encoded in Hydrogen Bonding Patterns?


A New Theory of Memory Encoding, Consolidation, Degradation and Retrieval , Is Memory Encoded in Hydrogen Bonding Patterns?

A recent review of the molecular mechanism theories that underpins memory processes has proposed a new theory of memory formation, consolidation, degradation, and retrieval through hydrogen bonding patterns. The recent review proposed that hydrogen bonding networks of biomolecules at the synaptic level may be a critical mechanism for memory processes.

Previous models that attempted to account for memory processes have a short-coming in respects to their lack of any chemical explanation. The most influential memory model to date theorised that learning-related activities modify synapses, rendering them stable, both functionally and structurally, this leads to the perseverance of particular memory traces.

The hydrogen bonding pattern hypothesis (HBPH) proposes that the postranslation modification (PTM) of synaptic proteins by hydrogen bonding is the main mechanism that is needed to store memories. The HBPH proposes that the different types of learning and memory are stored as specific hydrogen bonding patterns that involve hydroxyl groups of sugar moieties of glycoproteins with other sugar moieties, or other biomolecules of the human brain. The HBPH proposes that the brains ability to gather, store, manipulate and retrieve memory is dependant upon the quantitative reconstruction of these hydrogen bonding networks.

Specific memories are thus, the result of the stabilisation (or ‘freezing’) of glycoproteins in particular patterns. These patterns correspond to specific memories.

The HBPH accounts for short-term memory by stating that these memories may represent a smaller number of hydrogen bonds, or the gradual breaking and destruction of hydrogen bonds that fade with time.

Long-term memories are accounted for by the HBPH by stating that these memories either consist of a larger sum of hydrogen bonds, or covalent interactions between adjacent sugar moieties (which are stronger than hydrogen bonds).

Further support for the HBPH comes from the ease with which hydrogen bonds can both form and break and the almost infinite variations in the structural possibilities of these hydrogen bonding patterns. The vast number of structural possibilities can account for the vast number of memories that can formed by the brain. Furthermore, the degradation of molecular switches correlate with memory loss.

All-in-all the HBPH may offer a promising future for research into the molecular mechanisms that underpin memory processes.


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Daniel Edgcumbe

I am studying towards my PhD in cognitive neuroscience at a leading London university

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