Researchers have created new, specific memories by direct manipulation of the brain that could help understand and potentially resolve learning and memory disorders.
Research led by senior author Norman M. Weinberger, a research professor of neurobiology and behaviour 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.
The study has been published in Neuroscience.