A team of scientists at the University of California (UCLA) has successfully conducted the first memory transplant in history. The researcher managed to successfully transplant memories from one group of snails to another by transferring a form of genetic information known as ribonucleic acid (RNA).
The results of this experiment may offer new clues about the physical basis of memory.
In addition, the cells and molecular processes of marine snails are similar to those of humans and the result is an important step towards alleviating the effects of diseases such as Alzheimer’s or post-traumatic stress disorder.
With this experiment, the researchers have concluded that long-term memories are stored in the nucleus of neurons and not in the synapses of the brain, as previously believed.
The first memory transplant in history has been conducted between snails
Scientists applied electric shocks to the tails of a species of marine snail called Aplysia californica. After these shocks, the snail’s defensive reflex became more pronounced. Next, the researchers extracted the ribonucleic acid from these specimens and injected it into the snails that had not undergone this shock therapy.
When the RNA from the trained group was inserted into other specimens that had not been trained, the latter group behaved in the same way as those that had been trained.
Scientists were able to see that this new group into which RNA was inserted contracted for much longer than those who had not received defensive training or been injected with the molecule.
David Glanzman, one of the authors of the study, stressed that it was “as if we were transferring memory”. He has also emphasized that the snails felt no pain. Additionally, the scientists who managed to perform the first memory transplant in history using snails, consider that their experiment opens the roads to similar research in more complex animals.