January 27, 2011
IGF-II Boosts Memory Formation In Rats

Body builders take steroids and other hormones. How soon until drug-taking brain builders out number drug-taking body builders? Insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) improves memory formation in rats.

Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have identified a therapy that may enhance memory and prevent the loss of long-term memory. The research is published in the January 27th issue of Nature.

Led by Cristina Alberini, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai, the research team evaluated how a protein called insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II), a gene expressed during brain development that declines with aging, impacts memory formation and retention.

IGF-II is enriched in the adult brain in several areas, including the hippocampus and cortex, which are known to be important for memory formation. Researchers injected the hippocampus of rats with the protein and found that IGF-II significantly improved long-term memory. The team also found that IGF-II levels increased after learning, and that when that increase was blocked long-lasting memories could not form.

Granted, lots of people take drugs to stimulate their minds. Most of this drug use is aimed at wakefulness. But drug use aimed at growing neurons more closely resembles drug use aimed at growing muscles.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 January 27 11:37 PM  Brain Performance

Kudzu Bob said at January 28, 2011 3:58 PM:

I've heard it said that the invention of spectacles indirectly increased the intelligence of the human race, since the visual improvement that they afforded allowed people to read more easily.

What will the onset of smart drugs mean to human civilization? How significant would a five-point increase in IQ be? A ten-point increase? The overused term "game-changer" comes to mind.

Muhr said at January 28, 2011 8:27 PM:

Bodybuilders do use IGF-1 and IGF-2 does stimulate the IGF-1 receptor. Perhaps the observed effects were through the IGF-1 receptor.

Nanonymous said at January 29, 2011 2:13 PM:

IGFs are small proteins and they don't pass the blood-brain barrier. So brain builder would have to inject themselves in the head.

Lou Pagnucco said at January 30, 2011 9:36 AM:


IGFs do appear to cross the b-b-b according to the literature.

Some papers, though, speculate that IGF-1 might be detrimental in some dementias.

Nanonymous said at January 30, 2011 6:26 PM:

Lou Pagnucco,

Thanks for the correction. I had assumed, without checking, that IGFs would negave similarly to EGFs. Clearly, this is not the case.

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