(Dec. 15, 2009)--Led by Joe L. Martinez Jr., UTSA Ewing Halsell Distinguished Chair in Biology, a team of UTSA researchers found that radiation therapy can prevent the brain from forming some types of fearful memories. Further research may lead to treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and Alzheimer's disease.
Radiation therapy reduces the number of new granule cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for autobiographical memory. Cranial irradiation, or radiation of the skull, is commonly used as a treatment to prevent cancer from spreading to the brain. However, long-term cognitive impairments, such as the inability to learn or remember new tasks, often occur as a result of the procedure.
The researchers tested the ability of rats to form three types of fear memories: delay fear memories, context fear memories and trace fear memories. Delay fear memories form when a fearful situation occurs simultaneously with another event. Context fear memories form when a fearful situation follows another event and both take place in the same physical space. Trace fear memories form when an event and a fearful situation are separated by a pause.
Combining biological and psychological approaches in the laboratory, the researchers observed the behavior of rats not producing new granule cells in their brains. The researchers observed that the rats were able to form delay and fear memories but were unable to form trace fear memories. The findings led them to believe that new granule cells are not required in the hippocampus of the brain to form delay and context fear memories but are required for the formation of trace fear memories.
"This research has broad applications including treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and Alzheimer's disease," said Martinez. "If we can pinpoint the neurons in the hippocampus that are responsible for storing trace fear memories, we may be able to selectively erase negative memories by decreasing the number of new granule cells in the brain. Or, we may be able to prevent memory loss by preventing the death of new granule cells. Such therapies could definitely enhance an individual's life, but we have a long way to go before we put the theory into practice."
The annual Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Venture Competition and Exposition will be held on the Main Campus on Dec. 1. Twenty-eight teams from across the university will exhibit their project; six teams will compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding to launch their new venture / company. More than 650 students have participated in launching new technology ventures.
Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE 2.102), Main Campus
This concert features 50 community children performing music in the UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert. The children, led by UTSA music students studying to be music teachers, will join together in playing the Theme from Batman at their concert. The Batman of San Antonio, a local celebrity figure, will make an appearance at the concert. This event is free.
Buena Vista Theatre, Downtown Campus
Graduate student uses storytelling to highlight important issues facing children
As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.
At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.
Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.
With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.
Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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