Updated on 13 September 2013
Created memories have the same features as natural memories including long-term retention
Singapore: Neurobiologists at the University of California, Irvine, created new and specific memories by direct manipulation of the brain. The team was led by senior author Dr Norman M Weinberger, a research professor of neurobiology and behavior at UC Irvine. The study results have been published in the August 29 issue of Neuroscience.
The study showed that specific memories can be made by directly altering brain cells in the cerebral cortex, which produces the predicted specific memory. During the research, the team played a specific tone to test rodents then stimulated the nucleus basalis deep within their brains, releasing acetylcholine (ACh), a chemical involved in memory formation. This procedure increased the number of brain cells responding to the specific tone.
The following day, the scientists played many sounds to the animals and found that their respiration spiked when they recognized the particular tone, showing that specific memory content was created by brain changes directly induced during the experiment.
Created memories have the same features as natural memories including long-term retention. Previously, the authors of the study had shown that the strength of memory is controlled by the number of cells in the auditory cortex that process a sound.1
Dr Weinberger, who is also a fellow with the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and the Center for Hearing Research at UC Irvine, said that, "Disorders of learning and memory are a major issue facing many people and since we've found not only a way that the brain makes memories, but how to create new memories with specific content, our hope is that our research will pave the way to prevent or resolve this global issue."