Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Mouse memories 'flipped' from fearful to cheerful

27 August 2014 Last updated at 20:09

By Jonathan WebbScience reporter, BBC News

By artificially activating circuits in the brain, scientists have turned negative memories into positive ones.

They gave mice bad memories of a place, then made them good - or vice versa - without ever returning to that place.

Neurons storing the "place" memory were re-activated in a different emotional context, modifying the association.

Applying this technique to traumatic human memories appears unlikely, but the work sheds new light on precisely how emotional memories form and change.

Incremental progress
"Emotion is intimately associated with memories of past events and episodes, and yet the 'valence' - the emotional value of the memories - is malleable," said the study's senior author Prof Susumu Tonegawa, from the Riken-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics in Massachusetts, US.

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