Memory loss is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s and heartbreaking for loved ones to watch progress. Gone are the details of a first love or a child’s wobbly first steps. The achievements of a distinguished 30-year career. And the tall tales of traveling the globe that once had everyone rolling on the floor with laughter.
Scientists had assumed for a long time that the disease destroys how those memories are encoded and makes them disappear forever. But what if they weren’t actually gone — just inaccessible?
A new paper published Wednesday by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Nobel Prize-winning Susumu Tonegawa provides the first strong evidence of this possibility and raises the hope of future treatments that could reverse some of the ravages of the disease on memory.