News Assigning value to memories

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Have to retype this having gotten carried away. It's a little exciting if you're a techno-geek-nerd-curious person.

The lead investigator is Hao Li out of Northwestern. The published work is "Neurotensin orchestrates valence assignment in the amygdala." If interested, his stuff can be found on PubMed or other online sources. Neurotensin orchestrates valence assignment in the amygdala - PubMed

It might be useful to think of the article title in reverse, something like 1) In the amygdala 2) valences are orchestrated and assigned 3) by neurotensin. So what does that mean?

The amygdala (and the limbic system as a whole?) is where deep elements in the subconscious take shape. The shape can be hopeful or terrifying or anywhere in between. A memory of a holiday might have take a positive "spin," but the direction of the spin is determined by other factors.

"Valence" is an old word from chemistry and/or small scale bio-type studies. It refers to the directionality of the spin (technically) but in this context it means whether or not you can recall the memory as a happy or sad event in your life. This can be expanded on if anyone is interested, but that seems straightforward?*

That brings us to "neurotensin." What is it, what does it do, where does it come from, and how does it do what we think it does? Neurotensin is, depending on who you ask, a "neurotransmitter," a "short peptide," or a "protein." If there's a bunch of it around, memories acquire a negative context as the memory moves from short term memory into long term memory. The corollary also seems to be true. Less neurotensin means newly forming memories are more likely to be stored with a positive context as they move into long term memory.

Where does it come from? Smart people will have to figure that out. If memory serves me correctly, neurotensin "acts" in the hippocampus but is expressed somewhere else. Taking a speculative jab at it, my guess is the mammilary bodies but wtf do I know?

The rest seems to be a big black box right now. Maybe Shrodinger put his cat there?

It's fun stuff. Thanks for letting me play and I hope the info is interesting to people.


*small edit for clarification. It seems like the more neurotensin in the brain, the worse the memory becomes reaching the eventual point of trauma. And minimizing neurotensin avaiability enhances the positivity (eventually becoming joy?) of the memory. Might be interesting to see if there's any correlation between oxytocin and neurotensin.
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