Published on June 6th, 20140
“Inception” has become Reality. Scientists can induce false memories and then erase them
“Inception” has become reality. The researchers were able to induce false memories and then delete them.
Memories can not be observed directly, but serious problems related to their loss or persistence have led researchers to find other methods to analyze them.
Roberto Malinow of the University of California at San Diego, tried for years to understand how memories form and how they are lost.
“People want to know why in some cases they can forget everything, as in Alzheimer’s disease, or why some memories are extremely powerful, as post-traumatic stress syndrome“, explains Malinow.
The researcher, along with his team, did experiments on mice, using the latest technology, optogenetics, a method that uses light pulses to stimulate specific groups of neurons.
The new method allows the observation of the animal brain during routine activities.
Using this technique, Malinow rats induced a sense of fear in their memory, stimulating certain neurons. Then he wanted to see if this memory will persist, if the synapses between neurons will be weakened.
Using optogenetics, Malinow’s team managed to weaken synapses, virtually erasing fear memories in the brain of mice. When synapses were again reinforced the memory returned.
He says the experiment offers the best evidence yet that it’s the connections between brain cells that make memories possible.
It is also clear that light pulses can be used to delete specific traumatic memories, this method may be particularly useful for people suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.