Posted: 17 Nov 2021 20:24 GMT
Researchers pointed out that the new method could lead to the development of a series of treatments for mental illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s or schizophrenia.
A group of Japanese scientists reported on Wednesday about the development of a neural-optic system capable of manipulating memories, inspired by the device used by the protagonists of the movie ‘Men in Black’ (‘Men in Black’) to erase memory.
The new technique hampers nerve activity, known as ‘long-term potentiation’ (LTP), which is critical for memory formation, explained Akihiro Goto, a researcher at Kyoto University and first author of a recent study, published in the journal Science.
“In ‘Men in Black’ the agents erase memories with a flash of light. We did something similar“said the scientist, explaining that his team also used light to deactivate cofilin, a protein essential for LTP and the functioning of the synapse, the specialized intercellular functional approach between neurons.
Swapping out the black suits and sunglasses for white lab coats and safety glasses, the researchers injected an adeno-associated virus, which then expresses a fluorescent protein, into the brains of the mice, gaining full control over the consolidation of information. anywhere in the brain and at any time. When exposed to light, the virus released reactive oxygen that blocked cofilin.
During the experiment, the rodents were exposed to light twice: first, after learning a specific task, and then while asleep after learning the task. As a result, the mice completely lost the information they learned. “It was surprising that the removal of local LTP by directed illumination clearly erased the memory,” Goto stressed.
For his part, research co-author Yasunori Hayashi pointed out that the new technology may provide a method to isolate memory formation both temporally and spatially in the brain at the cellular level. Synaptic abnormalities related to long-term potentiation are implicated in memory and learning disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, as well as psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia. “We hope that our method will lead to a series of treatments for mental disorders,” he concluded.
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