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Amnesia has remained as a controversial topic among neuroscience researchers for many years. The researchers are divided by two parts with opposite beliefs; one side of neuroscience researchers believe the brain disease is caused by damaged cells, causing memory to not be stored, while the opposing side believes memories are not recallable due to some type of blockage. Although solutions to the opposing views have yet to be resolved, researchers have found a cure in a study with mice suffering amnesia, being able to recall their memory by using light pulses.
The study has been published in the US Journal of Science, and it states memories are unable to be recalled and therefore cannnot be recollected. Most researchers believe the storage theory of memory being tucked away somewhere in the brain, but the recent study has proved that the storage theory is false.
The study of the cure for mice suffering from amnesia, found by light pulses took place at the Ritkin Brain Institute in Japan, and MIT. During the test, researchers used blue light pulses which stimulated neurons called memory engrams, that become active as memory forms. Scientists activated the neurons by attaching a protein to them. They then tested what triggered thoughts, and found that the key was to strengthen the mice synapses, which are structures that allows neurons to communicate with one another.
As a control group, the scientists set a couple of mice in a chamber and did not strengthen their synapses; instead, the researchers used anisomycin, a compound that prevents processes from occurring in the mice, to see how the controlled mice would react during the shock test. The scientists then shocked the feet of both the strengthened synapses mice, and the mice given the compound, which forced them to freeze.
The results led to the strengthened synapses mice repeating the freezing response when they returned back to the chamber, and the mice given the compound were oblivious to the previous shock that took place in the chamber. They went on to continue entering the chamber without freezing. Once the researchers identified which mice suffered from amnesia, they began the study of finding the cure to recollect the lost memory.
The researchers activated the neurons in the mice that suffered from memory loss, by using the blue light pulses. The treated mice demonstrated the freezing response they did in the beginning of the test, and they were placed in a different chamber. The response showed scientists that their memory was lost temporarily due to fear, but the memory still existed since the blue lights eased their paralyzation.
MIT Researcher, Tomas Ryan, the studies co-author told sources, “scientists were allowed to separate memory from storage mechanisms, from authorizing organisms to recover and form the memory.” Ryan also stated, “when scientists strengthened the engram synapses it became the key step for the brain suffering from amnesia to be able to retrieve or access specific memories.”
The results of the new study for amnesia has helped researchers and scientists move forward to find new studies, which will help them get a better understanding of amnesia. While the light pulses cured the mice suffering from amnesia, future researches of memory and its biological clinical restoration, implies that memory can not be erased, but it can be inaccessible for recall, and therefore become lost.
By Krystle Mitchell
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Photo Courtesy of Tasayu Tasnaphun’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License