Mice implanted with false memories by neuroscientists

Neuroscientists from United States and Japan were successful in showing that they can implant false memories in the brains of genetically modified mice. Scientists at the Riken-M.I.T Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say that they have created a false memory in mice that provide ample proof of knowing about false memory formation. False memories in human beings are a major problem occurring in people by remembering experiences or situations that had never happened. False memories create hindrances with witness statements during court trials.

It is usually observed that defendants have often been convicted with witness statements in courts of law. They have often been convicted of offences based on eyewitnesses’ testimony only to have convictions later overturned when DNA or some other corroborating evidence in brought to hear. The false or mistaken memories are common in life and researchers had found it relatively easy to generate false memories of words, images in human subjects. However, there is still a mystery about what goes on in the brain when mistaken memories are formed.

In order to study how false memories might form in human brain, Susumu Tonagawa –a neurologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his team encoded the memories in mice brains by manipulating individual neurons. The results of their research are described in the latest edition of the Journal Science. In their work, Tonagawa’s team used the technique known as optogenetics that allows the fine control of individual cells. They engineered the brain cells in the mouse hippocampus, a part of the brain that is known to have a role in forming memories to express the gene for protein called channelrhodospin.

 

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