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Researchers Use Light To Recover ‘Lost’ Memories


Stashed in: Science!, Light, Brain, Awesome, Storage!, @iflscience, Memory!

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The neurochemistry of a memory!

Remember how in the beginning light was separated from the darkness?

That was the birth of memory!

Amnesia is caused by recall, not storage!

Do you remember what you had for lunch last Monday? Neither do I, but there’s no need to worry. It’s common to forget things every now and then, but life can be much harder for those who have developed amnesia from either a traumatic brain injury, stress or a neurological condition such as Alzheimer’s. But what exactly happens to these ‘lost’ memories? Using mice with amnesia as a model, researchers may have uncovered more about the nature of memory. The study, published in Science, has been able to find and retrieve lost memories with light.

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) wanted to settle the debate on whether amnesia leads to ‘lost’ memories from damage to specific brain cells, or whether sufferers are unable to recall memories because of a ‘blockage’ in its storage.

"Brain researchers have been divided for decades on whether amnesia is caused by an impairment in the storage of a memory, or in its recall," says lead researcher Susumu Tonegawa, from the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics, in a statement.

"The majority of researchers have favored the storage theory, but we have shown in this paper that this majority theory is probably wrong. Amnesia is a problem of retrieval impairment,” he adds.

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"Our conclusion is that in retrograde amnesia, past memories may not be erased, but could simply be lost and inaccessible for recall. These findings provide striking insight into the fleeting nature of memories, and will stimulate future research on the biology of memory and its clinical restoration," says Tonegawa. 

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