(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 UTSAPD and UTSA Outdoor Pursuits will teach and assist students, staff and faculty in basic bike repair.
Recreation Wellness Center, Outdoor Resource Center, Main Campus
he celebration will feature live music, food and drinks, Fiesta medals and royalty, and plenty of cascarones! The family-friendly event is free and open to the public.
Sombrilla Plaza, Main Campus
Brackenridge Distinguished Visiting Lecturer, Shari Huhndorf, Department Chair of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley and specializing in Native American Literature and Culture will present her current work during two public lectures.
John Peace Library Assembly Room (JPL 4.04.22), Main Campus
A brand new official Fiesta event is sponsored by UTSA and San Antonio Parks Foundation. This live country music festival features artists all day and night, dance lessons, merchants, a mechanical bull, food and drinks.
UTSA Park West Athletics Complex
The winners of the vocal area of the Concerto and Aria Competition will perform accompanied by the UTSA Orchestra.
Arts Building Recital Hall (Arts 2.03.02), Main Campus
President Taylor Eighmy invites all UTSA students to come grab a slice of pizza and introduce themselves to the President. Pizza while supplies last.
Frio Street Building, Food Court Commons, Downtown Campus
The town hall is an opportunity for the campus community to learn more about the President's Initiative for the Downtown Campus, ask questions, and offer perspectives on potential challenges and benefits.
Buena Vista Street Building Aula Canaria (BVB 1.328), Downtown Campus
The UTSA College of Engineering Technology Symposium showcases innovative student projects and research performed across multiple disciplines.
Convocation Center, Main Campus
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