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Memory transferred between snails

May 14, 2018

Memories can be transferred between organisms by extracting ribonucleic acid (RNA) from a trained animal and injecting it into an untrained animal, as demonstrated in a study of sea snails published in eNeuro. The research provides new clues in the search for the physical basis of memory.

Long-term memory is thought to be housed within modified connections between brain cells. Recent evidence, however, suggests an alternative explanation: Memory storage may involve changes in gene expression induced by non-coding RNAs.

David Glanzman tested the possibility that RNA from a trained California sea hare (Aplysia californica) can be used to create an engram -- the elusive substrate of memory -- in an untrained animal of the same species. The researchers sensitized some snails with tail stimulation that triggers an involuntary defensive reflex. Extracting RNA from these trained animals and injecting it into untrained animals resulted in a similar sensitized response. The trained RNA also increased the excitability of cultured sensory neurons, obtained from untrained animals, which control this reflex. These findings raise the possibility that RNA could be used to modify memory.
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Article: RNA from Trained Aplysia Can Induce an Epigenetic Engram for Long-Term Sensitization in Untrained Aplysia

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0038-18.2018

Corresponding author: David Glanzman (University of California, Los Angeles, USA), glanzman@ucla.edu

About eNeuro

eNeuro, the Society for Neuroscience's open-access journal launched in 2014, publishes rigorous neuroscience research with double-blind peer review that masks the identity of both the authors and reviewers, minimizing the potential for implicit biases. eNeuro is distinguished by a broader scope and balanced perspective achieved by publishing negative results, failure to replicate or replication studies. New research, computational neuroscience, theories and methods are also published.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

Society for Neuroscience

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