Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Musashi

When I first saw the word "musashi" when reading through the news last night, I got it mixed up with Mushishi, a line of yarn which I like.  I was close but had to double check the labels on the hanks in my stash to be sure and found my error.  Musashi is not yarn.  It is not, in this case, a reference to Miyamoto Musashi, the famous Japanese swordsman.  Musashi is a protein which, it turns out, is critical in the process of forgetting.

We tend to focus on the need to remember and often pay little attention to the fact that we forget until it raises a moment of inconvenience such as a missed appointment or anniversary.  However, forgetting is as important to proper brain function as is remembering.  Musashi intervenes in the encoding process and allows us to forget information which is not needed permanently.  This means that the process of forgetting is an active process even if it seems haphazard and frustrating to us.

Our brains seem to work best when there's a balance between musashi and adducin which helps retain memories.  With this discovery, scientists have another area to investigate in connection with Alzheimer's.

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