How do we build a memory in the brain? It is well known that for animals (and humans) new proteins are needed to establish long-term memories. During learning information is stored at the synapses, the junctions connecting nerve cells. Synapses also require new proteins in order to show changes in their strength (synaptic plasticity). Historically, scientists have focused on the cell body as the place where the required proteins are synthesized. However, in recent years there has been increasing focus on the dendrites and axons (the compartments that meet to form synapses) as a potential site for protein synthesis. Protein synthesis machines have been observed there as well as a limited number of their templates, the messenger RNA molecules. The limited number of mRNAs observed in dendrites and axons placed constraints on the constellation of proteins that could be synthesized to help synapses work and change. Researchers from Erin Schuman's lab at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Brain Research used new-generation sequencing to directly identify a very large number (over 2500) of new mRNA molecules that are present at the axons and dendrites. Using high-resolution imaging techniques they were able to both quantify and visualise individual mRNA molecules.