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Lost memories retrieved for mice with signs of Alzheimer’s

Method shows where the ability to remember breaks down in early stages of the disease

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2:00pm, March 16, 2016
mouse nerve cells

MEMORY SEEKER  Nerve cells that hold a memory (green) in a mouse’s hippocampus can be coaxed into action with lasers, bringing the memory back up. 

Using flashes of blue light, scientists have pulled forgotten memories out of the foggy brains of mice engineered to have signs of early Alzheimer’s disease. This memory rehab feat, described online March 16 in Nature, offers new clues about how the brain handles memories, and how that process can go awry.

The result “provides a theoretical mechanism for reviving old, forgotten memories,” says Yale School of Medicine neurologist Arash Salardini. Memory manipulations, such as the retrieval of lost memories and the creation of false memories, were “once the realm of science fiction,” he says. But this experiment and other recent work have now accomplished these feats, at least in rodents (SN: 12/27/14, p. 19), he says.

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