Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Neuroscientists successfully implant memories into sleeping mice

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – @BednarChuck

A team of French neuroscientists has effectively hacked the brains of sleeping mice, implanting false memories using electrodes to directly stimulate and record nerve cell activities, according to new research published online Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Their technique created artificial associative memories that remained throughout the creatures’ sleep, and altered their behavior after they woke up, according to The Guardian. While this is far from the only time that scientists have altered brain cells in the laboratory, it demonstrates for the first time that fake memories can be implanted into the brains of sleeping animals.

Furthermore, the study provides new insight into how nerve cells encode spatial memories, as well as the role of sleep in making those memories stronger. It shows how the brain replays the day’s events during slumber, New Scientist explained, and the methods used in the study could one day be used to alter the memories of people who have experienced traumatic events.

I distinctly remember there being cheese here?

As part of their work, Karim Benchenane of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and his colleagues implanted electrodes into the brains of 40 mice. Specifically, they focused on the medial forebrain bundle (MFB), which is involved in the reward process, and the CA1 region of the hippocampus, which helps encode spatial navigation-related memories.

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