Erased Memories In A Flash Of Light

Erasing memories with a flash of light?


(Optogenetics explained in a short video)

[R]esearchers in California have moved a step closer to making it a reality. They used light to erase specific memories in mice, and proved a basic theory of how different parts of the brain work together to retrieve episodic memories. The technique, known as optogenetics, pioneered by Karl Diesseroth at Stanford University, is a new way to manipulate and study nerve cells using light. The techniques are rapidly becoming the standard method for investigating brain function. Kazumasa Tanaka, Brian Wiltgen and colleagues at UC Davis applied the technique to test a long-standing idea about memory retrieval.

‘The theory is that learning involves processing in the cortex, and the hippocampus reproduces this pattern of activity during retrieval, allowing you to re-experience the event,’ Wiltgen said. If the hippocampus is damaged, patients can lose decades of memories. But this model has been difficult to test directly, until the arrival of optogenetics. Wiltgen and Tanaka used mice genetically modified so that when nerve cells are activated, they both fluoresce green and express a protein that allows the cells to be switched off by light. They were therefore able both to follow exactly which nerve cells in the cortex and hippocampus were activated in learning and memory retrieval, and switch them off with light directed through a fiber-optic cable.

Science fiction movie buffs of course remember an earlier reference to the idea that you could erase memories with a flash of light. The neuralizer, a neural neutralizer, was one of the great props from the 1997 film Men in Black.


(Men in Black)

Selective memory erasure was introduced to science fiction fans in 1966, by Philip K. Dick, in his remarkable short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale:

Someone, probably at a government military-sciences lab, erased his conscious memories...

I seem to remember several stories about memory erasure...

  - Amnesia Drugs: Bad Memories Blocked
  - Memory-Erasing Chemical
  - Selective Memory Deletion In Mice
  - Tetris Reduces Emotional Scars
  - Can Brains Erase Memories?
  - Memory Erasure Thanks To Snails

From Techodrom.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/13/2014)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Medical ")

Cryonic Preservation - The Last Perk You'll Ever Need
'Is there not also a law providing for voluntary suspension of animation?' - Edward Page Mitchell, 1879.

How Deep Learning And AI Will Affect Health Care
'A sort of satchel with an orifice in the top from which two metallic tentacles protruded slightly.' - Gordon R. Dickson, 1965.

DxtER! Tricorder Prize Won By Final Frontier Medical Devices
We've been waiting a long time for this, Star Trek fans.

Dune Fans! Your God Emperor Is Ready
'If one held a sandtrout in the hand, smoothing it over your skin, it formed a living glove.' - Frank Herbert, 1976.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Bat Bot Robotic Flapping-Wing Drone
'The dark birdforms dotted the mountaintops like statues of prehistoric beasts, wings outspread...'

NASA's Astronaut Rescue Ball
'Ball and closely-prisoned man plummeted downward..'

ARM Wants To Build Brain Chips
'Slivers of microsoft, angular fragments of colored silicon...'

Sky Fence - A Drone-Proof Shield Created Over Prison
'There’s still a protective field over the whole thing. It volatilizes anything that tries to get through.'

Geoengineering The Atmosphere For Climate Change
'...a uniform temperature for each degree of latitude the year round.'

Archinaut Orbiting Robotic Factory
'mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Cryonic Preservation - The Last Perk You'll Ever Need
'Is there not also a law providing for voluntary suspension of animation?'

Computers Understand Humans By Watching And Modeling Them
Soon, your computer will be watching you... and judging you.

NASA Asks For Moon To Earth Delivery Ideas
'Authority's 3-g catapult was almost one hundred kilometers long...'

Musk Tunnels Wisely Restrict Drivers
Too many robots.

Robot Swarms Controlled With Augmented Reality
'You're not thinking in enough dimensions...'

MIT's C-LEARN Helps Robots Transfer Learning To Other Robots
'Talk Between Robots radio...'

Mini-Brains In A Dish
'Cultured brains on a slab.'

Rapid Automated Search For Habitable Planets Needed
'I was near enough it now to set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching it for a habitable planet.'

WatchSense Perfect For Fat-Fingered Smartwatch Owners
'Now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components...'

Digital Construction Platform Robot 3D Prints A Building
'It extrudes material like a spider.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.