Transplanting memories sounds like an impossible thing to do, but a team of researchers from UCLA has managed to perform this complicated operation on snails belonging to the species Aplysia. By using some RNA strands, they showed it was possible to bring back some lost memories.
Researchers tested transplanting memories on snails
Researchers wanted to do the impossible, so they started experimenting and transplanting memories from one sea snail to another. To do this, they used RNA, as it has a transporting purpose. However, RNA might have other roles as well. In the case of damaged cells, RNA might help with their fixing.
To see if transplanting memories was possible, the research team decided to experiment on three marine snails of the Aplysia species. They chose this animal because scientists have great knowledge of its brain. Therefore, it was easier to experiment with it and study all the processes in detail.
The unshocked snails showed the same reactions as the shocked ones
At first, researchers started with a series of electric shocks they administered to two of the snails, while the third one remained unshocked. This is how they noticed the shocked specimens had their muscles shrinking for a period of about 50 seconds. Afterwards, they extracted RNA from all three, and gave it to seven other snails that had no memory of any electric shocks.
This is where the interesting thing comes in. Those snails who had received RNA from the shocked snails exhibited the same reaction as them. This means their muscles also contracted, but it happened only over a period of 40 seconds. Therefore, these results might be enough to prove that transplanting memories is possible.
Despite some obvious differences, researchers think the brain cells of snails and those of humans are really similar. This makes researchers optimistic, as it might mean that transplanting memories might be possible for humans as well. The study can highlight some possible future treatments for PTSD or Alzheimer’s. If you’re curious about it, you can read it in the journal eNeuro.
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