When it comes to maintaining sanity, forgetting is at least as important
as remembering. Without it, the constant stream of stimuli--faces on
the street, words read, items glanced at--would quickly overwhelm the
mind. But the neural basis underlying the act of forgetting isn't well
understood. A new study found that in roundworms, a protein called
musashi is actively involved in forgetting. Just in time for the 10th
anniversary ofEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
In the study, published in the journal Cell, scientists
found that roundworms that were genetically modified to lack the
musashi protein did much better on a smell-based learning task, actively
retaining memories 24 hours later that unmodified mice did not. This is
one of the first studies to show that forgetting can be an active (as
opposed to passive) process, the authors wrote.
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