Scientists have discovered that drugs known as ampakines, developed in the early 1990s to treat age-related memory impairment and other CNS disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia, continue to be effective in reversing the effects of aging on memory even after the drug itself has left the body. In rat studies, the drug appear to increase the production of a naturally occuring protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is vital for long-term memory formation. Also, ampakine-treated rats showed an increased long-term potentiation (LTP), a process in which the connection between the brain cells is enhanced and memory is encoded.
“This is a significant discovery,” said Gall, professor of anatomy and neurobiology. “Our results indicate the exciting possibility that ampakines could be used to treat learning and memory loss associated with normal aging.”