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Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have discovered that a certain type of DNA damage long thought to be particularly detrimental to brain cells can actually be part of a regular, non-harmful process. [1]

Scientists have long known that DNA damage occurs in every cell, accumulating as we age. But a particular type of DNA damage, known as a double-strand break, or DSB, has long been considered a major force behind age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s. Today, researchers in the laboratory of Gladstone Senior Investigator Lennart Mucke, MD, report in Nature Neuroscience that DSBs in neuronal cells in the brain can also be part of normal brain functions such as learning – as long as the DSBs are tightly controlled and repaired in good time.

Learning entails the notion of destruction. Every time you learn something new, what you knew up to then is destroyed. Literally. And this applies even to learning completely new things: replacing “nothing” with “something” is equally “destructive” as a process. What you once knew, what you once were as a human being, is destroyed to give place to your “new self” – ready and equiped with new knowledge and understanding.

Say goodbye to your old self. Say hello to your new “you”.

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