MAR 09, 2016 7:17 AM PST

The Brain Prize Is Won By Scientists From The UK

While the field of neuroscience isn’t known for flash or glamour, the Brain Prize is definitely a prestigious and talked about award. Awarded each year by the Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Foundation in Denmark, it recognizes one or more scientists whose work has made a significant contribution to the advancement of neuroscience. In a first, three British neuroscientists have been awarded the prize, which carries a monetary award of one million Euros.
Three UK scientists will share the 2016 Brain Prize

Tim Bliss, Graham Collingridge and Richard Morris were announced as the winners of the 2016 award on March 1st, 2016. Their work on the mechanics and functions of memory in the brain in the brain was recognized for the impact it could have on the causes and treatments of several neurodegenerative diseases. The research by Professors Bliss, Collingridge and Morris focused on a brain mechanism known as ‘Long-Term Potentiation’ (LTP), which is responsible for plasticity in the brain and how memories are made and sometimes lost.

Memory is the brain’s most important function. Without the ability to store experiences from our past, we couldn’t learn a language, read, write or even find our way around. The ability to process all the stimuli we receive in the world would be lost without the vital structure of the hippocampus and it’s function in memory formation and retention.

While the three have never worked in the same laboratory, they have collaborated over the years working on understanding how the synapses in the brain can be strengthened.  The hippocampus is the center of where new memories are formed and LTP is how those memories are retained.  Professor Bliss studied LTP back in 1973 with colleague Terje Lømo which resulted in the first detailed description of LTP, its cellular make up and its role in memory.

Co-winner Graham Collingridge’s work has been largely about identifying the key molecules that are active in LTP. Specifically, it was his work that led to the discovery of the protein receptor NMDA, which is crucial for communication between nerve cells in the brain.

In 1986, Richard Morris, who is well known for the water maze used for evaluating memory in lab mice, developed a method that showed mice also used LTP to process and retain memory. Using drugs that acted on the NMDA receptor, he was able to define the role of LTP in memory in the mouse brain.  

In a press release, Sir Colin Blakemore, chairman of the selection committee said, “Memory is at the heart of human experience. This year’s winners, through their ground-breaking research, have transformed our understanding of memory and learning, and the devastating effects of failing memory.”

Memory and learning depend on LTP of brain cells and in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, autism, depression and others it is disrupted. Understanding the details of what it looks like in a health brain could lead to treatments for these conditions. Professors Bliss, Collingridge and Morris will share the prize equally. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark will present it to them in a ceremony in Copenhagen on July 1, 2016.
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
MAR 12, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAR 12, 2020
Brain Stimulants Help with Focus
Drugs like Ritalin, Adderall and similar medications have been assumed by the public as fuels to help people focus. But, ...
APR 09, 2020
APR 09, 2020
How Playing the Drums Changes Your Brain
Playing music is associated with a range of neurological benefits from maintaining and improving cognitive abilities to ...
APR 26, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
APR 26, 2020
Does Poor Sleep Lead to Obesity, or is the Opposite True?
For many years, researchers have been aware of the link between obesity and poor sleep or a lack of sleep. But what come ...
MAY 11, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAY 11, 2020
3D Cell Culture Model Suggests Herpes Can Cause Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's is a common form of dementia that affects as many as 5.5 million Americans and the incidence is increasing a ...
MAY 13, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
MAY 13, 2020
Cannabis May Reverse Aging in the Brain
Cannabis is usually associated with cognitive deficits such as short term memory loss, and problems maintaining attentio ...
MAY 13, 2020
MAY 13, 2020
7 Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness + Meditation
During the past two decades, scientists have been increasingly interested in studying mindfulness. Early findings inspir ...
Loading Comments...