A memory transplant procedure might sound like something out of a sci-fi movie. In fact, this has recently been achieved on snails, opening new doorways into the future. A team of scientists has managed to successfully transplant memories from one snail to another by transferring genetic information known as RNA. As for the snails, the team trained then beforehand to develop a defensive reaction to this procedure. The research could offer new clues regarding the physical basis of memory.
RNA actually means ribonucleic acid and it’s a large molecule that fulfills many important roles within the biological organisms. For example, it assembles proteins and allows genes to express. For this experiment, the team gave electric shocks to the tails of marine snails from the species Aplysia californica. After this, the defensive withdrawal reflex of the snails became a lot more pronounced. This means that the snails usually contract in order to protect themselves. When taping the snails, the experts noticed that those that had received a shock contracted for 50 seconds. On the other hand, those that did not receive shocks had a defensive contraction that lasted for only one second.
Memory transplant has been achieved on snails
The next step was to extract RNA from the snails’ nervous systems, but only from those that had received the shocks. After that, they injected it into some marine snails that had not received the shocks. The reaction they had amazed the entire team. The snails acted the same way as if they had been administered shocks. They displayed a defensive contraction that lasted for 40 seconds.
Professor David Glanzman, who was part of the experiment, said that the snails acted as if they transferred their memory. Also, it’s worth noting that the snails were not hurt during this experiment. This is a huge step towards understanding how memory is stored and works, even in people.
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