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Physical Insights Into Biological Memory Using Phospholipid Membranes

January 12, 2024

Clockwise from the top left: Droplet Interface Bilayers (DIBs) is an electrophysiological technique to measure the electrical activity at the aqueous solution-biological membrane interface; an equivalent circuit model with its essential components, including an electric field source, a resistor, and a capacitor; key physical properties of the electrical activity, such as electric charge and capacitance, in biological membranes can be measured using DIBs.1

Scientific Achievement

We demonstrated that electrical stimulation can modify the characteristics of the lipid membrane, indicating a novel mechanism for storing memory in the human brain.

Schematic representation of chemical signaling in a synapse. Synaptic plasticity can alter synaptic strength by either regulating the amount of neurotransmitter released into the synaptic gap from a presynaptic axon’s membrane or by altering the number of postsynaptic receptors on a dendrite.

Significance and Impact

Neuronal membranes in the brain facilitate the transmission of electrical signals, allowing communication between nerve cells. Lipid bilayers, essential structures in cell membranes, undergo deformation and restructuring in response to this electrical activity. These alterations influence the electromechanical characteristics of the membrane, serving as a physical repository for biological memory.

Research Details

  • Applying cyclic electric fields to phospholipid membranes induces enduring changes, evident in the sustained long-term potentiation (LTP).
  • The molecular mechanisms driving long-term potentiation (LTP) in phospholipid membranes are governed by collective molecular motions, including phonons and membrane surface undulations.
  • LTP in phospholipid membranes is the new mechanism for memory storage.

Related Publication: Bolmatov, D.. et. al. (2024). Physical Insights Into Biological Memory Using Phospholipid Membranes. European Physical Journal, E, 2024.

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