What do humans and snails have in common? No, it’s not the start of a bad joke. You may be surprised to know that snails are providing researchers with a better understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease! And thanks to snails, new research suggests that it might be possible for Alzheimer’s patients to retrieve lost memories.
So why are these snails relevant to us? It turns out that marine snails called Aplysia have molecular and cellular processes in the brain that are very similar to humans, and both of our brains use a hormone called serotonin to help form long-term memories and build new connections between brain cells, or synapses.
Alzheimer’s destroys synapses. Past research has suggested that long-term memory is stored in the synapses, which means that when those synapses are destroyed, those memories are also permanently lost. But this new research in snails suggests that memories aren’t stored in the synapses, which could mean hope for recovering memories that have been lost.
Read more about this research here.