Scientists Successfully Use Lasers to Form and Erase Memories
Published By : 04 Jun 2014 |Published By : QYRESEARCH
Selectively erasing or implanting memory from the human brain might sound like an idea straight out of a sci-fi film such as ‘Total Recall’. But this reel idea is not longer just that. Scientists have reported success in memory manipulation with the use of laser beams. This allows them to not just selectively implant or restore memories, but also erase them. Previous research efforts on similar lines have proven that memories can be altered on a genetic level. But according to a study that was published in Nature recently, researchers describe a potential new method to selectively erase and re-plant memories in the brain. This was done by a research team from the University of California, San Diego’s (UCSD) School of Medicine with the use of optical stimulation using lasers. The study was carried out in genetically-engineered lab rats, and saw scientists successfully erasing and then restoring memories in the animals’ brains. This study is being widely regarded as one that will lend credence to the theory that the process of long-term potentiation is the underlying basis for memory.
This is achieved by stimulation nerves that exist in the brain at certain frequencies to either strengthen or weaken the synapses-spaces between nerve cells that act as bridges to allow the passage of information. This information is typically passed in the form of an electrical or chemical signal.
According to the study’s senior author Dr Roberto Malinow, synaptic connections could be either weakened or strengthened by applying a stimulus to the brain. This allows memory to be formed, erased, and even re-activated, he said. The challenge now remains to make this experiment applicable to the human brain where it could provide solutions to a number of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.