May 25, 2024

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Latest technological developments

How technology can enable us see and manipulate reminiscences

Now, neuroscientists can manipulate memory engrams by artificially activating their underlying networks and inserting new details. These tactics are also shedding light on how distinct sorts of memory work and where each individual is recorded in the brain. 

Episodic autobiographical memory promotions with what happened, where, and when. It relies on the hippocampus, a seahorse-formed composition. Procedural reminiscences, supported by the basal ganglia, let us try to remember how to have out recurring behaviors like riding a bicycle. This area malfunctions in these with habit. Our capacity to recall details, like point out capitals, is thanks to semantic memory, which is saved in the cortex.

What resources enable us see reminiscences?

At the conclude of the 19th century, tabletop microscopes built it probable to recognize person neurons, enabling scientists to draw stunningly in depth representations of the mind. By the mid-20th century, impressive electron microscopes could exhibit synaptic constructions just tens of nanometers extensive (about the width of a virus particle). At the change of the 21st century, neuroscientists applied two-photon microscopes to observe synapses sort in actual time although mice learned.

Amazing improvements in genetics have also created it feasible to swap genes in and out of the brain to link them to memory perform. Researchers have applied viruses to insert a environmentally friendly fluorescent protein discovered in jellyfish into mouse brains, triggering neurons to light up throughout finding out. They’ve also used an algae protein named channelrhodopsin (ChR2) to artificially activate neurons. The protein is delicate to blue light-weight, so when it is inserted into neurons, the neurons can be turned on and off with a blue laser—a procedure known as optogenetics. With this know-how, which was pioneered by researchers at Stanford nearly two decades ago, neuroscientists can artificially activate memory engram cells in lab animals.