Memories may be stored on your DNA
2008 12 03

From: newscientist.com


In the film Blade Runner, Rachael's human qualities are the result of implanted memories and photographs that provide an historical past stretching back to her childhood.

Remember your first kiss? Experiments in mice suggest that patterns of chemical "caps" on our DNA may be responsible for preserving such memories.

To remember a particular event, a specific sequence of neurons must fire at just the right time. For this to happen, neurons must be connected in a certain way by chemical junctions called synapses. But how they last over decades, given that proteins in the brain, including those that form synapses, are destroyed and replaced constantly, is a mystery.

Now Courtney Miller and David Sweatt of the University of Alabama in Birmingham say that long-term memories may be preserved by a process called DNA methylation - the addition of chemical caps called methyl groups onto our DNA.

Many genes are already coated with methyl groups. When a cell divides, this "cellular memory" is passed on and tells the new cell what type it is - a kidney cell, for example. Miller and Sweatt argue that in neurons, methyl groups also help to control the exact pattern of protein expression needed to maintain the synapses that make up memories.

They started by looking at short-term memories. When caged mice are given a small electric shock, they normally freeze in fear when returned to the cage. However, then injecting them with a drug to inhibit methylation seemed to erase any memory of the shock. The researchers also showed that in untreated mice, gene methylation changed rapidly in the hippocampus region of the brain for an hour following the shock. But a day later, it had returned to normal, suggesting that methylation was involved in creating short-term memories in the hippocampus.

To see whether methylation plays a part in the formation of long-term memories, Miller and Sweatt repeated the experiment, this time looking at the uppermost layers of the brain, called the cortex.

They found that a day after the shock, methyl groups were being removed from a gene called calcineurin and added to another gene. Because the exact pattern of methylation eventually stabilised and then stayed constant for seven days, when the experiment ended, the researchers say the methyl changes may be anchoring the memory of the shock into long-term memory, not just controlling a process involved in memory formation.

"We think we're seeing short-term memories forming in the hippocampus and slowly turning into long-term memories in the cortex," says Miller, who presented the results last week at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington DC.

"The cool idea here is that the brain could be borrowing a form of cellular memory from developmental biology to use for what we think of as memory," says Marcelo Wood, who researches long-term memory at the University of California, Irvine.

Article from: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026845.000-
memories-may-be-stored-on-your-dna.html


More:
Mystery of the Mind


Deep DNA memory theories: Can we remember our ancestors’ lives?


Philip K. Dick’s Phylogenic Memory and the Divine Fire



Related Articles
Deep DNA memory theories: Can we remember our ancestors’ lives?
DeoxyriboNucleic Acid (DNA)
Covalent Modification of DNA Regulates Memory Formation
Mystery of the Mind
Cellular memory
DNA methylation


Latest News from our Front Page

Right into enemy hands? ISIS shows off new weapons allegedly airdropped by US (VIDEO)
2014 10 23
Islamic State has published a new video in which a jihadist shows off brand-new American hardware, which was purportedly intended for the Kurds they are fighting in the Syrian border town of Kobani. The undated video, posted by the unofficial IS mouthpiece “a3maq news”, sees a jihadist showing several boxes of munitions with English-language markings, with a parachute spread out on ...
STAGED INFECTION: Has The Ebola ‘Outbreak’ Narrative Fallen Apart?
2014 10 22
Over the past month, the ‘pandemic’ propaganda surrounding the deadly Ebola virus seemed to reach vitriolic levels – raising serious questions about the validity of this current viral outbreak… On Monday of this week, it was reported that 48 people were released and cleared after a 21-day quarantine due to their contact with the now deceased Ebola-stricken patient Thomas Eric ...
6,000-Year-Old Temple with Possible Sacrificial Altars Discovered
2014 10 21
A 6,000-year-old temple holding humanlike figurines and sacrificed animal remains has been discovered within a massive prehistoric settlement in Ukraine. Built before writing was invented, the temple is about 60 by 20 meters (197 by 66 feet) in size. It was a "two-story building made of wood and clay surrounded by a galleried courtyard," the upper floor divided into five ...
What happened to Journalist Serena Shim? Assassinated? Find out what happened to Serena, Press TV director calls on Turkey
2014 10 21
Press TV news director Hamid Reza Emadi says the “suspicious death,” of the news channel’s correspondent in Turkey is a tragedy for “anyone who wants to get the truth.” Emadi made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Sunday following Serena Shim’s death across the border from Syria’s Kurdish city of Kobani, where the ISIL terrorists and Kurdish fighters ...
Ancient Roman Nanotechnology Inspires Next-Generation Holograms for Information Storage
2014 10 21
The Lycurgus Cup, as it is known due to its depiction of a scene involving King Lycurgus of Thrace, is a 1,600-year-old jade green Roman chalice that changes colour depending on the direction of the light upon it. It baffled scientists ever since the glass chalice was acquired by the British Museum in the 1950s, as they could not work ...
More News »