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Scientists implant false memories in the brains of mice

Delila James | Science Recorder | July 26, 2013

Scientists implant false memories in the brains of mice

A new way to transform memories.

Memories are notoriously unreliable–from sometimes garbled childhood recollections to more grave instances involving misidentification of a criminal perpetrator. Now, researchers have demonstrated that erroneous memories can be physically implanted in a mouse’s brain, causing it to mis-remember where an unpleasant experience occurred. The new study could provide scientists with a better understanding of how false memories are created in humans.

Reporting Thursday in the journal Science, lead author Xu Liu of the Riken-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said the team was able to cause mice to remember receiving an electric shock in one location when the shock actually was administered in a completely different one. To accomplish this, the scientists placed mice in one environment long enough for them to form memories about it. Then, they identified and chemically labelled the creatures’ brain cells where the memories were arising.

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