Wonderful breakthrough shows transfer of memories possible

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Researchers have successfully transferred a sea snail's memory to another one by injecting RNA from a trained sea snail into an untrained one.

To treat memory-related illnesses in humans, we've first got to understand how the brain stores memories in the first place.

There are many kinds of RNA, and in future research, Glanzman wants to identify the types of RNA that can be used to transfer memories. As a result, researchers used RNA, which is part of the epigenetic modification and part of the process of forming long-term memory.

Memory transfer has been at the heart of science fiction for decades, but it's becoming more like science fact.

The researchers gave mild electric shocks to the tails of a species of marine snail called Aplysia. After around 24 hours the snails had developed an instinctual reaction to recoil when being tapped on the tail. But through repeated shocks, the researchers trained them to curl for longer, up to about 50 seconds.


"So, these RNAs that are produced are not only a by-product of the learning process, but are actually capable of driving changes in a completely naïve animal", said Jason Newbern, a developmental neuroscientist at Arizona State University.

Once injected into the untrained snails, they too showed a similar defensive response without having ever demonstrated it before.

What happened next was unbelievable.

The experiment revealed that the recipients of the "memory transplant" contracted for about 40 seconds when tapped, suggesting that the RNA injections had transferred the memory of the electric shock to the unsensitized snails.

"It's as though we transferred the memory", said the study's senior author, David Glanzman, from the University of California, Los Angeles.


Speaking of what this means, Glanzman said: "What we are talking about are very specific kinds of memories, not the sort that says what happened to me on my fifth birthday, or who is the president of the United States". Curiously, the specialists found, including RNA from the snails that had been given stuns likewise created expanded volatility in tactile neurons in a Petri dish; it didn't do as such in engine neurons.

At the point when a marine snail is given electric tail stuns, its tangible neurons turn out to be more edgy.

And, of course, the RNA of untrained snails didn't have this effect on the sensory neurons. In the 1940s, Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb proposed memories are made in the connections between neurons, called synapses, and stored as those connections grow stronger and more abundant. (Each neuron has several thousand synapses.) Glanzman holds a different view, believing that memories are stored in the nucleus of neurons.

In the field of neuroscience, it has always been thought that memories are stored in synapses.

Of course, we'll need further research to confirm this possibility. Seralynne Vann from Cardiff University in the United Kingdom made an interesting point about the chances of applying a similar technique in the study of human memory.


The research, published in the journal eNeuro, could provide new clues in the search for the physical basis of memory.

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