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Tools to Alter and Control Human Memory Coming Soon: Neuroscientists

by Thilaka Ravi on January 4, 2012 at 1:09 PM
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 Tools to Alter and Control Human Memory Coming Soon: Neuroscientists

Neuroscientists, including one of Indian-origin are making progress in areas where memory is stored and a technique for controlling these memories is underway making it possible soon to alter or even create human memory.

Neuroscientists at MIT have discovered a chemical way to make mice forget bad memories.


By deactivating a 'memory gene' - Npas 4 - they found that mice would 'forget' their fear of a chamber where they had previously been given electric shocks, the Daily Mail reported.

The researchers believe that the gene could be important for all types of memory.

To look into the genetic mechanisms of memory formation, researchers gave mice a mild electric shock when they entered a specific chamber.

Within minutes, the mice learn to fear the chamber, and the next time they entered it, they froze.

The gene - Npas4 - activates strongly when this happens and when the researchers removed the gene for Npas4, they found that mice could not remember their fearful conditioning.

The research could also lead to understanding where memories are stored in the brain - right down to which individual cells store each one.

"We're hunting for the memory, and we think we can use this gene to mark where it is," Kartik Ramamoorthi said.

When an individual experiences a new event, his or her brain encodes a memory of it by altering the connections between neurons.

When that happens, many genes activate. But one of them seems to be predominantly vital - a 'master gene' for memory.

The gene is mainly active in the hippocampus, a brain structure known to be significant in forming long-term memories.

"This is a gene that can connect from experience to the eventual changing of the circuit," said Lin, the Frederick and Carole Middleton Career Development Assistant Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

Source: ANI

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