Technology and science have been going hand in hand and have been advancing faster than ever. Researchers have found that memories that have been 'lost' as a result of amnesia can be recalled by activating brain cells with light. They reactivated memories that could not otherwise be retrieved, using a technology known as optogenetics.
As a result of our fast paced technology advancements, recently, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered a way to recall memories that have been "lost" because of amnesia. They did this by using a technology known as optogenetics in which they revived the memories by activating brain cells with light.
The researchers at MIT including Tomas Ryan, Dheeraj Roy, and Michelle Pignatelli, fleshed out answers to a constant debated question in the neuroscience community of whether it is possible to revive memories of those who have amnesia.
For many years, it has been debated of whether amnesia is caused by damage to brain cells(a memory can't be stored) or if the memory is blocked somehow preventing the revive. It has been previously suggested that in our brain network, there's a group of neurons which are activated in the process of grabbing the memory which, in turn, causes lasting physical and chemical changes. It was found that if these neurons were triggered by, per say, a scent for example, their entire memory could be recalled. These neurons which allow that are known as "memory engram cells."
In 2012, a group of researchers at Tonegawa used optogenetics to suggest that the group of neurons do exist in a territory known as the hippocampus. However, until present day, no one has been able to figure out that these neurons undergo a process in which the neurons experience chemical changes known as memory consolidation. The MIT researchers first located a group of engram cells in the hippocampus and then discovered that when using optogenetic tools, they were able to express a memory.
"We were able to demonstrate for the first time that these specific cells -- a small group of cells in the hippocampus -- had undergone this augmentation of synaptic strength," Tonegwa says.
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