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Scientists erase specific memories in mice

Posted on Sunday, October 26 2008 @ 23:03:20 CET by


Yahoo News reports a team of U.S. and Chinese researchers managed to delete specific memories from the brain of mice:
To explore the possibility of safely carving away bits of memory, the study authors first focused on the activity of a common protein found only in the brain, called CaMKII.

In both mice and people, this enzyme is often referred to as the "memory molecule" because of its key role in facilitating brain cell communication -- especially people's ability to learn and retain information.

To hone in on the specific workings of CaMKII, Tsien and his team first developed a "chemical-genetic method" that enabled them to instantly turn the protein "on" or "off" among mice intentionally bred to overproduce the molecule.

After exposing the mice to emotionally powerful stimulations, such as a mild shock to their paws, the scientists then observed how well or poorly the animals subsequently recalled the particular trauma as their brain's expression of CaMKII was manipulated up and down.

When the brain was made to overproduce CaMKII at the exact moment the mouse was prodded to retrieve the traumatic memory, the memory wasn't just blocked, it appeared to be fully erased.

This occurred without impacting the animal's ability to recall any other memories, the scientists say.
The scientists say they're still far from testing this on humans, as the human memory is much more complex than that of a mouse.


 



 

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