Emotions connected to memories can be altered, at least in mice

By artificially activating circuits in the brain, scientists have turned negative memories into positive ones.

They gave mice bad memories of a place, then made them good – or vice versa – without returning to that place.

Neurons storing the “place” memory were re-activated in a different emotional context, modifying the association.

Although unlikely to be applied in humans with traumatic memories, the work sheds new light on the details of how emotional memories form and change.

“Emotion is intimately associated with memories of past events and episodes, and yet the ‘valence’ – the emotional value of the memories – is malleable,” said the study’s senior author Prof Susumu Tonegawa, from the Riken-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics in Massachusetts, US.

Male mice were given a negative experience, consisting of small electric shocks, in a particular room, and the neurons working to store that memory were labelled using “optogenetics”.

The next day, with the mouse in a different room, stimulating the labelled neurons in this way effectively “reactivated” the original, fearful memory. When the mice were offered a choice between having the blue light on or off, they chose to leave it off.

But next, the researchers stimulated the labelled neurons while they gave the mouse apositive emotional cue (a female for company), in an attempt to “flip” the emotional association of the stored memory.

Sure enough, offered the same choice again, the mice now wanted the blue light switched on: the original memory trace had been altered, and now they liked it.

Read the full, original story: Mouse memories ‘flipped’ from fearful to cheerful

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend