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How to erase a memory - and restore it

The research from the University of California at San Diego could impact on Alzheimer’s research.

Image: Memory via Shutterstock

RESEARCHERS AT THE University of California, San Diego have erased and reactivated memories in the brains of rats.

The research has profoundly altered the rats’ reactions to past events.

The study, published in the journal Nature, is the first to show the ability to selectively remove a memory and predictably reactivate it by stimulating nerves in the brain at frequencies that are known to weaken and strengthen the connections between nerve cells, called synapses.

“We can form a memory, erase that memory and we can reactivate it, at will, by applying a stimulus that selectively strengthens or weakens synaptic connections,” said Roberto Malinow, MD, PhD, professor of neurosciences and senior author of the study.

In terms of application, Malinow says that since Alzheimer’s Disease is caused by a weakening of synapses by the beta amyloid peptide, the research could be used to fight the disease.

“Since our work shows we can reverse the processes that weaken synapses, we could potentially counteract some of the beta amyloid’s effects in Alzheimer’s patients,” he said.

Read: Debunked: Is it possible to have a photographic memory?

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