TECH

Researchers Erase Memories In Rats, Then Bring Them Back

02/06/2014 13:49 BST | Updated 02/06/2014 14:59 BST
Dimitri Otis via Getty Images

Imagine never being claustrophobic ever again, or curing a fear of roller coasters? Well researchers at the University of California are now one step closer after having actually removed memories from rats, then restoring them again.

The process began by taking a rat that was genetically engineered to be more sensitive to light and then stimulating the nerves.

Whilst they were stimulating the nerves they'd then apply an electric shock to the rats foot, creating the association of nerve stimulation with pain and fear.

Scientists then went about completely removing that fear by breaking down the connections that the brain had just made.

Several low-frequency light pulses later and the rat had completely forgotten to be scared, removing that memory.

Where things get pretty mind-blowing though is that the scientists were then able to actually reactivate that fear by using high-frequency optical pulses, essentially bringing back that fear.

The study had actually never set out to bring back memories with the team primarily working on memory removal, making their discovery all the more impressive.

Roberto Malinow, MD, PhD, and senior author on the paper believes, the work has huge ramifications for humans, especially those suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

"Since our work shows we can reverse the processes that weaken synapses, we could potentially counteract some of the beta amyloid's effects in Alzheimer's patients,"