A new study of mice suggests that forming new brain cells can push out old memories as newborn neurons destabilize established connections. According to research from Japan published in ‘Cell’, clearing old memories from the hippocampus can also make way for new learning. “Other researchers had proposed the idea that neurogenesis, the birth of new neurons, could disrupt existing memories, but the Cell paper is the first to show evidence supporting the idea, says Paul Frankland, a neuroscientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Scientists have known that memories first form in the hippocampus and are later transferred to long-term storage in other parts of the brain. For some amount of time the memory resides both in the hippocampus and elsewhere in the brain. What’s not been known is how, after a few months or years, the memory is gradually cleared from the hippocampus.”
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