MIT Researchers Implant False Memories In Mice

Earnest Cavalli

New member
Jun 19, 2008
5,352
0
0
MIT Researchers Implant False Memories In Mice



In news that's sure to make Philip K. Dick turn in his grave, scientists have successfully demonstrated an ability to implant memories within mammalian test subjects.

Imagine a world where you can have custom-tailored memories implanted into your skull. Want to be beautiful? Want to be a secret agent? Want to be Arnold Schwarzenegger and meet interesting, three-breasted prostitutes? Yes, that's blatantly the premise behind 1990's Total Recall, but thanks to new research conducted by scientists at MIT, that future might not be so far off after all.

A team of MIT researchers led by Nobel Laureate Susumu Tonegawa published a study in the latest issue of Science [http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6144/387] which records how Tonegawa's team was able to implant memories in the brains of lab mice. It's a involved process, but to put things simply, the researchers genetically engineered rodents capable of expressing the Channelrhodopsin-2 protein. Crucially, these mice only express the protein within the hippocampus region of their brains, specifically the neurons involved in the formation of new memories.

Once suitable subjects were bred, Tonegawa's team implanted a small fiber optics cable in the brains of each test mouse. Channelrhodopsin-2 is a light-sensitive protein, so when these cables were activated, the proteins within the mice's hippocampi likewise become active, essentially forming a memory of the light they "saw" within their minds. Even after moving the mice to a completely new test area, the researchers found that they could force the mice to recall the memory of the aforementioned light by reactivating the subjects' fiber optics implants.

Here comes the really interesting part: Not only can scientists create memories, they can also associate ideas like pain with those memories. Once it had been determined that the mice were retaining these false memories, researchers administered small electrical shocks to their feet. These shocks were timed to coincide with flashes of light from the fiber optic implants, and as a result the mice began to associate the light with a negative sensation. Even after they'd been moved back to the original test area, the mice reacted fearfully whenever the researchers lit up their tiny rodent brains.

"Are there multiple conditions that lead to the formation of false memories?" writes study co-author Steve Ramirez. "Can false memories for both pleasurable and aversive events be artificially created? What about false memories for more than just contexts - false memories for objects, food or other mice? These are the once seemingly sci-fi questions that can now be experimentally tackled in the lab."

The potentially horrifying ramifications should this discovery be scaled up to affect humans go without saying, so instead let's look at the positives. Soldiers afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder could soon have more positive memories replace those terrible ones that haunt their minds. Childhood trauma could be erased with the flick of a switch. And of course, we could all learn kung fu by simply sitting back in a filthy chair and jamming a huge steel phallic metaphor into our brain stems.

It's growing increasingly difficult to determine what's "sci-fi" and what's simply "sci."

Source: io9 [http://io9.com/memory-implantation-is-now-officially-real-909746570]

Permalink
 

Corven

Forever Gonzo
Sep 10, 2008
2,022
0
0
It would be interesting if there was a possibility that you would be able to create memories of a skill, or perhaps learn a language, so someone wouldn't have to spend years learning something but be able to "learn" it in a fraction of the time.
 

RJ 17

The Sound of Silence
Nov 27, 2011
8,687
0
0
Well....that's not creepy at all.... >.>

Seriously, this should be MIT's new slogan: "MIT: Because Apparently We Really Don't Have Anything Better To Do."
 

Hagi

New member
Apr 10, 2011
2,741
0
0
It's not really a false memory when there's an actual light and actual pain is it?

It's simply a very real memory being recorded slightly differently, by light-sensitive cells within the brain rather than by light-sensitive cells just outside the brain.

And the pain is obviously very real, they're being shocked. Nothing false about those memories.
 

CyberMachinist

New member
Oct 8, 2012
83
0
0
Well at least school won't be so hard if everyone has access and the money to use this, in fact if this ever reaches a far enough point then there wouldn't be a need for school at all..... in theory anyway.

DVS BSTrD said:
So if we gave Wesley Snipes the memories of Usain Bolt, would that make him a Blade Runner?
Wouldn't we all like to be Blade runners? We just need some Fiber for our brains.

On a serious note, maybe if i remember correctly, excising is another way for our brains to adjust to muscle growth, or something like that. IF i remember our bodies can already do that stuff but our brain limits our bodies due to strain and extreme fatigue and likely death, training helps lessen that limit or something like that, I think one of my teachers told me that.
 

Agayek

Ravenous Gormandizer
Oct 23, 2008
5,178
0
0
Hagi said:
It's not really a false memory when there's an actual light and actual pain is it?

It's simply a very real memory being recorded slightly differently, by light-sensitive cells within the brain rather than by light-sensitive cells just outside the brain.

And the pain is obviously very real, they're being shocked. Nothing false about those memories.
They're talking about after the mice are removed from the stimulus, but that's more simple Pavlov than anything else.

The important thing here is that the scientists found a way to use fiber-optic cables to forcibly generate stimulus directly into the mice's brain. It's not clear in the article if they know/understand what that stimulus exactly is, but they were able to stimulate the proteins and brain processes used to create memories through the use of fiber-optics. This is absolutely the creation of false memories. It's highly unlikely it's anything more than an incredibly crude facsimile of a memory (if it ever even reached above the level of "sensation" that is), but it is hijacking brain processes.
 

M920CAIN

New member
May 24, 2011
349
0
0
Can it make studying easier? As in implant knowledge in my brain until it explodes?
 

Anachronism

New member
Apr 9, 2009
1,842
0
0
Earnest Cavalli said:
It's growing increasingly difficult to determine what's "sci-fi" and what's simply "sci."
And that is awesome. Go science! Bring on the warp drive.
 

Hagi

New member
Apr 10, 2011
2,741
0
0
Agayek said:
They're talking about after the mice are removed from the stimulus, but that's more simple Pavlov than anything else.

The important thing here is that the scientists found a way to use fiber-optic cables to forcibly generate stimulus directly into the mice's brain. It's not clear in the article if they know/understand what that stimulus exactly is, but they were able to stimulate the proteins and brain processes used to create memories through the use of fiber-optics. This is absolutely the creation of false memories. It's highly unlikely it's anything more than an incredibly crude facsimile of a memory (if it ever even reached above the level of "sensation" that is), but it is hijacking brain processes.
The pain association is, as you say, simply Pavlov and has nothing whatsoever to do with false memories.

The article specifically mentions that the mouse's memories are of light. Which is exactly what fiber-optics transmit.

Don't get me wrong, this is still impressive. They've engineered mouse with the ability to generate memories through a new sense. But it's still a real memory of something that actually happened. There was an actual light within the fiber-optic cable which the mouse is recalling.

A fake memory would be if they trained the mouse in exactly the same way, using the fiber-optic cable and the pain sensation and then managed to get the same reaction not by triggering the same fiber-optic cable again ( which is the real memory ) but by triggering another of the mouse's senses and the mouse recalling it as if it was exactly the same as the fiber-optic memory ( which would make it fake, since it's not ).
 

FancyNick

New member
Mar 4, 2013
162
0
0
I am actually not fond of this idea at all. There are a million ways false memory could be used against us and the worst part is, we'd have no idea they did it.

I know it's way off but I want to be skeptical damn it.
 

Comocat

New member
May 24, 2012
382
0
0
Hagi said:
Agayek said:
They're talking about after the mice are removed from the stimulus, but that's more simple Pavlov than anything else.

The important thing here is that the scientists found a way to use fiber-optic cables to forcibly generate stimulus directly into the mice's brain. It's not clear in the article if they know/understand what that stimulus exactly is, but they were able to stimulate the proteins and brain processes used to create memories through the use of fiber-optics. This is absolutely the creation of false memories. It's highly unlikely it's anything more than an incredibly crude facsimile of a memory (if it ever even reached above the level of "sensation" that is), but it is hijacking brain processes.
The pain association is, as you say, simply Pavlov and has nothing whatsoever to do with false memories.

The article specifically mentions that the mouse's memories are of light. Which is exactly what fiber-optics transmit.

Don't get me wrong, this is still impressive. They've engineered mouse with the ability to generate memories through a new sense. But it's still a real memory of something that actually happened. There was an actual light within the fiber-optic cable which the mouse is recalling.

A fake memory would be if they trained the mouse in exactly the same way, using the fiber-optic cable and the pain sensation and then managed to get the same reaction not by triggering the same fiber-optic cable again ( which is the real memory ) but by triggering another of the mouse's senses and the mouse recalling it as if it was exactly the same as the fiber-optic memory ( which would make it fake, since it's not ).
The false memory is that they are tricking the mice into remembering something that didnt happen.

Test 1 - shine light on mice

Test 2 - shine light on mice and shock them

Test 3 - Mice are put in test 1 conditons, but think its test 2 (hence the false memory)

It's crude, but think of this as eye witness testimony. You are at a diner and you recall in your testimony that there were 4 men in suits there (sit. A). But CCTV shows that there were actually 2 men and 1 women (sit. B). The research in this paper basically tricked the mice into thinking situation A was real by manipulating memory forming cells with light.

In other words, the mice arent remembering B because of A (Pavlov), they are mis-remembering A because they were tricked by B.
 

Steve the Pocket

New member
Mar 30, 2009
1,649
0
0
Scientists learn how to manipulate people's memories and a video game site's reaction is to invoke Total Recall, not Remember Me? Or even BioShock?

I am disappoint, guys.
 

1337mokro

New member
Dec 24, 2008
1,503
0
0
Steve the Pocket said:
Scientists learn how to manipulate people's memories and a video game site's reaction is to invoke Total Recall, not Remember Me? Or even BioShock?

I am disappoint, guys.
I am disappoint in YOU. Do you not know that Total Recall THE GAME! preceded BOTH of those?!


You need to work on your Nintendo history.

Though I really love how people here are dismissing this research.

You could make a photo-reactive compound that targets specific receptors in the brain. Meaning you could basically inject people with memory juice and then start altering their minds! This is both the scariest and most amazing thing I have read in a long while.

I only hope they are in time for Matrix jokes to still be relevant.
 

nathan-dts

New member
Jun 18, 2008
1,538
0
0
I know animal testing is necessary for us to progress, but reading about things like this just makes me feel bad.
 

Krustosaurus

New member
Mar 6, 2013
30
0
0
I think these scientists should have a sit down and watch Dollhouse, followed by reading 'Flowers for Algernon'. Interesting stuff but with potentially scary ramifications. Poor mice.
 

wfpdk

New member
May 8, 2008
397
0
0
RJ 17 said:
Well....that's not creepy at all.... >.>

Seriously, this should be MIT's new slogan: "MIT: Because Apparently We Really Don't Have Anything Better To Do."
MIT: we do what we must, because we can.
 

The Rogue Wolf

Stealthy Carnivore
Legacy
Apr 3, 2020
11,603
1,061
118
Stalking the Digital Tundra
Gender
✅
I think we're still a long, long way from mapping out exactly what neurons hold which memories, so I wouldn't run out to buy a football helmet just yet.

nathan-dts said:
I know animal testing is necessary for us to progress, but reading about things like this just makes me feel bad.
Yeah, me too. It would be nice if we could implant memories of cheese and hugs. And maybe Skittles [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/comics/critical-miss/10471-Heritage].

seydaman said:
Hm, neat steps forward, now where's my invisibility cloak?
What are you talking about? It's right over there.

...oh, great, somebody left the damn thing on, now we'll never find it.
 

nathan-dts

New member
Jun 18, 2008
1,538
0
0
The Rogue Wolf said:
I think we're still a long, long way from mapping out exactly what neurons hold which memories, so I wouldn't run out to buy a football helmet just yet.

nathan-dts said:
I know animal testing is necessary for us to progress, but reading about things like this just makes me feel bad.
Yeah, me too. It would be nice if we could implant memories of cheese and hugs. And maybe Skittles [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/comics/critical-miss/10471-Heritage].
Not sure if serious, but yeah, with something like this, some positive memories should be associated with that light. Unfortunately, those mice were probably killed once the experiment was over.