Mutant mice have been used successfully as a tool for investigating the mechanisms of memory at multiple levels, from genes to behavior. In most cases, manipulating a gene expressed in the brain impairs cognitive functions such as memory and their underlying cellular mechanisms, including synaptic plasticity. However, a remarkable number of mutations have been shown to enhance memory in mice. Understanding how to improve a system provides valuable insights into how the system works under normal conditions, because this involves understanding what the crucial components are. Therefore, more can be learned about the basic mechanisms of memory by studying mutant mice with enhanced memory. This review will summarize the genes and signaling pathways that are altered in the mutants with enhanced memory, as well as their roles in synaptic plasticity. Finally, I will discuss how knowledge of memory-enhancing mechanisms could be used to develop treatments for cognitive disorders associated with impaired plasticity.
- Long-term potentiation (LTP)
- Synaptic plasticity