The molecular biology of memory storage: a dialogue between genes and synapses

Science. 2001 Nov 2;294(5544):1030-8. doi: 10.1126/science.1067020.


One of the most remarkable aspects of an animal's behavior is the ability to modify that behavior by learning, an ability that reaches its highest form in human beings. For me, learning and memory have proven to be endlessly fascinating mental processes because they address one of the fundamental features of human activity: our ability to acquire new ideas from experience and to retain these ideas over time in memory. Moreover, unlike other mental processes such as thought, language, and consciousness, learning seemed from the outset to be readily accessible to cellular and molecular analysis. I, therefore, have been curious to know: What changes in the brain when we learn? And, once something is learned, how is that information retained in the brain? I have tried to address these questions through a reductionist approach that would allow me to investigate elementary forms of learning and memory at a cellular molecular level-as specific molecular activities within identified nerve cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aplysia / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology
  • Long-Term Potentiation
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Second Messenger Systems / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Neurotransmitter Agents