Scientists manipulate brain to create memories

Researchers from UC Irvine show 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 piece of evidence that memories can be created by direct cortical manipulation.

To conduct their research, the team, led by senior author Norman M. Weinberger, played a specific tone to test rodents, then stimulated the nucleus basalis deep within their brains, which released 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.

By finding the way the brain makes memories, along with how it creates new memories with specific content, researchers hope this will pave the way to prevent and resolve learning and memory disorders.