Scientists mess with memories again

A while back, I wrote about scientists creating false memories in humans via digitally altered video. Just a few days ago a similar report came out dealing with fruit flies, except it was using lasers and genetic engineering. Now scientists are experimenting on the memories of mice.

Unlike the fruit flies experiment, the triggered memories are actually real ones. But it similarly uses genetic engineering in order to fine-tune the details. The main finding here, as far as I can tell with my semi-retarded understanding, is that only a small number of neurons in the brains of the subjects needed to be activated in order to trigger the memory. Here is what I believe the lead author of the paper in question looks like:

Michael Häusser of the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research at University College London (visual approximation)

Michael Häusser of the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research at University College London (visual approximation)

Of course the memories so triggered had to be ones of mouse torture, for well known reasons.

“So far all manipulations of neural activity have targeted local clusters of neurons or certain neural cell types,” adds Michael Brecht at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Berlin, who studies neural circuitry. “If the conclusions turn out to be correct, such highly selective manipulations suggest that the brain might actually compute with small, precisely selected sets of neurons.”

Huh.

Well, that’s that. It’s only a matter of time before we’re all manipulating each others’ memories with lasers and stimulating select patches of neurons until everything we know is just lies based on more lies and then a speed freak will write a story about it which will then be made into a hit movie starring the future governor of California.

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