The researchers first moved the memory of one living being to another

The world's first memory transplant was just achieved in marine snails.

Now, biologists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have pulled off something similar - at least on a gastropod level - by effectively transferring a memory from a trained snail into the mind of an untrained one.

"I think not long from now, we could possibly utilize RNA to enhance the impacts of Alzheimer's malady or post-awful pressure issue", said David Glanzman, senior creator of the investigation and a UCLA educator of integrative science and physiology and of neurobiology.

"The study suggests that RNA populations are the missing link in the search for memory", Bridget Queenan, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who was not involved in the study, writes in an email to The Scientist. The research provides new clues in the search for the physical basis of memory. The UCLA team applied mild electric shocks to the creatures' tails in order to provoke a defense mechanism - a withdrawal reflex in which the snails contracted to protect themselves from harm. By repeatedly shocking the snail's tail, the animal learns to stay in that defensive position when touched on the siphon, even weeks after the shocks end. They found that the injected sea snails replicated the same sensitivity as of the donor. Soon after, the RNA from the subject was extracted and injected into another sea snail to see what happened. All seven of these snails reacted to stimuli in the same way as the trained snails, contracting for about 40 seconds on average.

"It's as though we transferred the memory", said Glanzman, who is also a member of UCLA's Brain Research Institute. Unsurprisingly, this control group showed no signs of sensitization.

The researchers extracted RNA, which was accumulated in the nervous system of animals after the shocks, and not sensitized.

In a statement for The Guardian, Glanzman commented on the nature of the experiment, noting that the type of memories that were transplanted from one snail to another was crucial to the success of the procedure.

Scientists have found that for the production of reflex answer sensory neurons, which are excitable in the presence of certain RNA. (Each neuron has several thousand synapses.) Glanzman holds a different view, believing that memories are stored in the nucleus of neurons.

Scientists know more about the cell biology of this simple form of learning in this animal than any other form of learning in any other organism, Glanzman said.

Researchers say the cells and molecular processes of snails are similar to that of humans. In the 1940s, Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb proposed memories are made in the connections between neurons, called synapses, and stored as those connections grow stronger and more abundant.

There are many kinds of RNA, and in future research, Glanzman wants to identify the types of RNA that can be used to transfer memories.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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