In pioneering latest research, neuroscientists from the Center for Scientific Research and espci ParisTech operated memories in sleeping mice, using paired electrodes put into the brain to turn neutral memories into positive ones.
The latest discovery has members of the scientific community buzzing.
“This research demonstrates an amazing level of mastery over the cognitive machinery that gives increase to memories,” Steve Ramirez, Massachusetts institute of technology neuroscientist, who has done landmark research on memory manipulation, told the Huffington post.
In the test, the experts placed one electrode in the hippocampus, a brain region linked with spatial memory. The other was located in the brain known as reward center.
First, they watched the brain activity of each mouse as it roamed around an “exploration place.” As the mouse saved memories of different places in the exploration region, different neurons in the hippocampus lit up, indicating that spatial detail was being recorded.
Then, the expert’s monitored activity of the hippocampus at night as it consolidated memories of different places the mouse had visited that day.
They located on electrode on a neuron that had lit up in one particular spot of the cage earlier that day. When that memory was being worked, the experts used another electrode to stimulate the brains reward center, making the mouse link that place with some sort of reward, such as food.
How do they understand it worked? When the mice woke up, they ran straight to that place of t the cage, guessing a reward.
“The learning we induced while we sleep was just to change the emotional value of the different places of the environments,” Dr Karim Benchenane, a CNRS neuroscientist and one of the study authors, told the Huffington post.
These outcomes tell us something amazing about how the brain works: Our memories seem to be saved in a piecemeal fashion. While one area of the brain holds that factual detail of the memories, the emotions linked with the memory are held in a different place.
So what about a human brain? In the future, experts might be capable to go into a person brain while they are sleeping and turn off the emotional element of bad memory, essentially extracting the shock from a traumatic experience.
“For humans, you need a way to notice during sleep the periods during which the traumatic experience are reactivated,” Benchenane described, “it is probably that it will be soon easy to do with fMRI.”