Creating New Memories Artificially

MindinMindThis article raises some interesting possibilities.  Can false memories be inserted into a normal brain?  If new memories can be created, can real memories be deleted?  Can a prefrontal lobotomy be achieved with greater precision? 

If memories can be created, can personalities be changed or even created?  If your personality were determined to be ‘deviant,’ could your personality be reformed to comport with contemporary standards?  Are we a machine created by God or god created by a machine?

Scientists Create New Memories by Directly Changing the Brain

ChangeMem130910142334Sep. 10, 2013 — By studying how memories are made, UC Irvine neurobiologists created new, specific memories by direct manipulation of the brain, which could prove key to understanding and potentially resolving learning and memory disorders.

Research led by senior author Norman M. Weinberger, a research professor of neurobiology & behavior at UC Irvine, and colleagues has shown that specific memories can be made by directly altering brain cells in the cerebral cortex, which produces the predicted specific memory. The researchers say this is the first evidence that memories can be created by direct cortical manipulation.

During the research, Weinberger and colleagues 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.

“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,” said Weinberger, who is also a fellow with the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory and the Center for Hearing Research at UC Irvine.

The creation of new memories by directly changing the cortex is the culmination of several years of research in Weinberger’s lab implicating the nucleus basalis and ACh in brain plasticity and specific memory formation. Previously, the authors had also shown that the strength of memory is controlled by the number of cells in the auditory cortex that process a sound.

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California – Irvine, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
D. Kim, D. Pare, S. S. Nair. Assignment of Model Amygdala Neurons to the Fear Memory Trace Depends on Competitive Synaptic Interactions. Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; 33 (36): 14354 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2430-13.2013
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About carlos

I'm a curious person, of reasonable intellect, "on the beach" (retired) and enjoying my interest in anthropology, language, civil rights, and a few other areas. I've been a hippie/student/aerospace tech writer in the '60s, a witness to the Portuguese revolution in the ‘70s, a defense test engineer and witness to the Guatemalan genocide in the '80s, and a network engineer for an ISP in the '90s. Now I’m a student and commentator until my time is up. I've spent time under the spell of the Mesoamerican pyramids and the sweet sound of the Portuguese language. I've lived in Europe, traveled in Brazil, Central America, Iceland, New Zealand, and other places. My preferred mode of travel is with a backpack and I eat (almost) anything local. Somehow, many of the countries I have been to have had civil unrest (for which I was not responsible). I'm open to correspond with anyone who might share my liberal, humanist interests. I live in San Buenaventura, California.
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