Neuroscientists have found a way to “edit” memories and feelings with the help of holograms
Thanks to new technology, researchers will be able to not only to wash.
Scientists create more and more technology to recover lost memory, but is it possible to literally control the memories, and along with sensations? For example, to add a person’s memory episodes that he had never experienced actually, or "off" they experienced pain.
This may seem like a plot for a sci-fi movie, but scientists from the University of California at Berkeley have found a way "edit" sensations and memories. However, while its effectiveness has been tested only on mice.
The authors explain that control the neurons, they help strobe light, and computer holography allows to project the light to the desired area of the brain. (This area of science is called optogenetics. The authors of the project "News.Science" (nauka.vesti.ru) tell about the most interesting optogenetics experiences in a special section.)
In General the technology can be called a holographic modulator: it allows you to cut, copy and paste certain patterns of activity. It can help to manage thousands of neurons simultaneously, to reproduce, alternatively, to suppress a particular feeling or memory.
In the initial stages of the experiments the aim of the scientists was the tiny part of the mouse brain volume "just" two or three thousand neurons. With the help of a harmless virus-"the postman" in these cells delivered a piece of DNA that produces a protein that activates neurons in response to a specific stimulus.
Then, in the skull of a rodent, the drilled a hole, through which the holographic light signal could get into the brain (in the form of a projection). Computer holography was the only way to focus the flash on the surface of the microscopic square, say the authors. By the way, "coverage" was 550 × 550 × 100 micrometers.
Respond to light exposure had a motor, sensory and visual centers (part of the somatosensory system). Pulse frequency up to 300 per second, each of them had to activate up to 50 neurons simultaneously.
It is noted that during the tests the animals ran on a treadmill, but their heads were immobilized to the signal received in the desired area. As a result of foreign rodents, they had real sensory stimulus. For example, if the animal saw before him some obstacle.
"The main breakthrough is the ability to control the neurons in space and time. In other words, to "hunt" specific sets of neurons that you want to activate, and doing it in characteristic scale and the speed with which they usually work"- says the author of optogenetic Pegar Nicolas (Nicolas Pégard).
His colleague and co-author of the study, molecular biologist Alan Mardinly (Alan Mardinly) adds that there is still a lot of testing and improvements technology. Currently, the technique allows to act only on microscopic section of the brain, and even this requires a lot of equipment.
The ultimate goal of the team is to expand "coverage" of the light.
As to the test method, now the researchers intend to conduct similar tests with a pre-trained mice to the behavioral changes after the procedure was more explicit.
In particular, the authors want to write a real model of the brain in various occasions and play them with the help of a holographic modulator, to compare what kind of response will cause the present and the "copied" impact.
When scientists achieve the required accuracy, we can talk about the creation of neural prostheses. With their help, can be, for example, to compensate for neurological damage inflicted by degenerative diseases or injuries.
"If you can read and write the language of the brain, he will interpret your message much better. This is the one of the first steps towards the development of technology that will complement or strengthen the feelings of a man" concludes Alan Mardinly.
Learn more about this interesting work in the journal Nature.
We will add that earlier magnetic stimulation of the brain. "forgotten" memories. Meanwhile, a special brain implants are already helping to improve the intelligence and to slow the progression of dementia.