Most graduate students I know have had a string of academic successes in their lives – they maintain good grades and are considered the ‘smart ones’ in the family. In fact, their hard-working nature has made them accustomed to being successful. Graduate school, however, tends to cause an abrupt end to their streak of success – a steep plunge into the abyss of failing scientific experiments. Scientific projects are infamously maligned by far too many reproducible failures. One can argue that it is the nature of scientific research – when you’re pushing the boundaries of the unknown, you are bound to encounter a few hurdles, right? Being a graduate student myself, I often wish I had been forewarned, so I could have equipped myself with the tools required to survive the storm.
Last Thursday, an article published in the internationally renowned journal Nature piqued my interest. This paper, titled “Activating Positive Memory Engrams Suppresses Depression-like Behavior,” was written by Ramirez and colleagues and was published in the June 18th issue. I was initially drawn to this paper because my current research project is focused on understanding the hippocampus, a region of the brain important for learning and memory, and understanding the mechanisms by which antidepressants work in animal models. Judging by the title alone, it seemed to me like the research group was able to reduce depression symptoms through some sort of memory manipulation, which could have important ramifications on future depression and antidepressant research. Continue reading