False Memories. Oh, and mice.

So before anything: genetically engineered animals. How do we feel about this?

Scientists can implant little mouse brains with optic fibers so that they can deliver pulses of light to aforementioned little mouse brains. Individual neurons can also respond to light as a result. Optogenetics. Blows my little mouse mind.

But I digress. On to the important stuff:

Scientists in Japan have successfully implanted false memories into mice.

A research team from the MIKEN-RIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics was able to cause mice to associate a favorable environment with prior negative experiences in a dissimilar setting.


Smart Mouse: Mousey Worthington, III

Based on the science involved in the aforementioned mice-o-genetics, a cluster of neurons were conditioned to respond to light, making the Mickey Mouse Juniors recall the unfavorable environment.

As reported in Science, researchers conclude that this study can one day provide more explanation for false memories in humans.

Numerous studies have been conducted over the years focusing on false memories, usually related to eyewitness testimonies.  The neural circuitry involved in a false memory can affect responses (fear, happiness, anxiety) in the same way a real memory does.

Certain theories suggest that as the number of pieces of perceptual information about an event (sight, sound, smell, feel, etc.) are gathered, the likelihood of people believing they actually experienced an event, even if they haven’t, increases.

According to the American Psychological Association, the “realness” of a false memory “results from the brain’s ability to pull together perceptual information from unrelated experiences and wrongly read it as a single, authentic memory. This “source monitoring” theory of false memories postulates that people misattribute perceptual information experienced in a different context to support a memory for something that never happened.”

Other studies point to emotions as conflicting with the reliability of human memory. Research out of Cornell University shows that falsifications of memory are typically emotionally-driven. Study results show that emotions, especially negatively charged emotions, can affect misrepresentations in memory. This is true in children, and particularly in adults.

As reported by the National Science Foundation, “when an experience has negative emotional qualities, true memory levels are lowest and false memory levels are highest.”

Super interesting, no??

Now you totally have an excuse for when your significant other “misremembers” a negative event in the future. Just point toward the fuzzy little mouse brains that told you the truth of false truths.

To read more about the BBC article on the MIKEN-RIT study, click here.


I call him Cheezit.

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