Japanese scientists from Kyoto University were able to erase memories in the brains of experimental mice. For this, the researchers used the technique of optogenetics – optical effects on the brain, according to Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
The process of transferring information from short-term memory to long-term memory is called consolidation. It occurs in the brain by amplifying a signal at chemical synapses – contacts between neurons. It is the groups of neurons that determine how and when memories are formed in the brain. The protein cofilin works for optimal synapse function. By breaking down this protein and affecting specific areas of the brain, scientists were able to manipulate memories.
How did they destroy cofillin? They injected an adenovirus into the brain, which helped deliver the protein. During optical exposure, proteins release oxygen – and it deactivates cofillin.
The brains of the mice were irradiated twice: immediately after the animal learned a new task, and then during sleep after training. As a result, the mice “forgot” about the studied task, completely losing memories of it.
Thus, scientists have found that initially the process of “erasing” occurs locally in the hippocampus. And then, during sleep on the same day, neurons are organized into synchronously activated ensembles. During the third wave during sleep on the second day, memory can be stabilized.