The world of Total Recall and Inception are quickly becoming a reality. Case Western Reserve University scientists have newly discovered a technique to implant memories into the minds of mice. The scientists are far from using this technology to implant ideas or the memories of a fun vacation on the planet Mars, but with their new findings they hope to one day treat patients with rapid memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Ben W. Strowbridge, a Professor of Neurosciences and Physiology/Biophysics, and his student, Robert A. Hyde, a fourth-year MD/PhD student in the neurosciences graduate program at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, have discovered how to implant brain tissue with artificial short-term memories. They also figured out how to detect these changes in a mouse’s brain. The duo will publish their findings in October’s issue of Nature Neuroscience.
“The Mnemonic Representations of Transient Stimuli and Temporal Sequences in Rodent Hippocampus In Vitro” is the title and technique used in rodents during the study and experiments. It isolates four separate pathways in the rodent’s brain with simple tasks. At the moment, the test rodents could only hold the new memory for 5 to 10 seconds, but the scientists feel these results are very positive for the future of memory implantation. As explained in Science Daily:
The information about which pathway was stimulated was evident by the changes in the ongoing activity of brain cells… The researchers also demonstrated that they could generate memories for specific contexts, such as whether a particular pathway was activated alone or as part of a sequence of stimuli to different inputs. Changes in ongoing activity of hippocampal neurons accurately distinguished between two temporal sequences, akin to humans recognizing the difference between two different song melodies. The artificial memories Dr. Strowbridge’s group created in the hippocampus continued to recognize each sequence even when the interval between stimuli was changed.
The research could eventually help patients with Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss associated with aging. We’re also hoping they can use the discoveries to foil the plans of an evil corporation to take oxygen away from mutants on Mars, thus stopping a workers’ uprising.