A preliminary study was carried on mice who suffered from amnesia, and it was found that patients suffering from retrograde amnesia – where the person losses memory access, actually don’t lose their memory but it will become inaccessible for recall.
The study focused on the use of innovative technology called optogenetics. By this technique, researchers were able to select certain neurons and insert a protein in them via an engineered virus.
After the protein was introduced in the neuron, the cells showed increased sensitivity to blue light, which made it easy to researchers to turn certain neurons on and off whenever they wanted to.
Researchers have created bad memories for the mice by using shocking devices, during this they identified that the neurons were stimulated whenever the mice experienced the memory.
Later, they had the mice to suffer from retrograde amnesia by injecting anisomycin, which alters memory formation.
When the blue light was on, researchers noted that the mice response returned.
Researchers have concluded that memories that were previously regarded as lost are not actually lost but could leave engram cells that remain active in brain.
Susumu Tonegawa, the director of the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Saitama in Japan and lead author of the study said, “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.”
The study sounds promising but due to ethical reasons it will not be available for humans.
The method tags memories before they have been recorded in brain.
The study led to an important discovery of the fact that memories are not lost, but just inaccessible.