Scientists Use Laser To Give False Memories to Flies
2009-11-11 0:00

By Aaron Saenz | NoOneHasToDieTomorrow.com

It’s not enough that we swat flies or lure them to get stuck on glued paper, now we are also writing false memories into their brains.


A team of neuroscientists at the University of Oxford have discovered a way to trigger behavior in flies by selectively modifying neurons in their brain and stimulating them with a laser in order to simulate a learning experience. As published in the science journal Cell, flies were made to prefer one smell over another even though they had no real world experience associated with either smell. The experiment has important implications for the eventual development of a technology to create false human memories. We could one day “learn” by having experiences directly inputed into our brains.

Our brains are massive systems of interlocking neurons. In the organization of connections between cells are encoded all the memories of our lifetime. The possibility exists that if we can control these connections, and/or the behavior of the neurons, we could alter our memories; erasing some and creating others. While the brains of flies and humans have vast differences in scale, the structures in one often have an analogous partner in the other. If neuroscientists are able to control the memories of flies, the techniques used could conceivably be adapted into mammals and even humans. Like the fly, we could be made to prefer one stimuli over another based on neuron manipulation, not real world experience.

Gero Miesenbock, leader of the Oxford project, and his team were looking for the cells in the fly brain that are linked to negative associative learning. This learning is how flies (and other animals) link an experience with an undesired outcome. For example, if “bad memories” of being swatted by a human hand are associated with the smell of perfume, the fly may start to avoid perfume. The associative learning neurons produce dopamine as a means of communicating with neighboring cells. Miesenbock modified the neurons of flies by adding a receptor for the chemical ATP (adenosine triphosphate). If ATP showed up around a neuron, it would be stimulated and release dopamine (triggering a “memory”).

There is normally no ATP in the fly brain, but the Oxford team placed some there using tiny light-sensitive molecular cages. Hit the cages with a laser, and the ATP is released, the cells are triggered, releasing dopamine and forming a memory in the fly brain. It sounds complicated but we can make some broad generalizations and summarize: When the laser hits the portion of the fly brain responsible for negative associative learning, it thinks: “Whatever else I’m experiencing now is bad. Very bad, and I don’t like it.”

So what did the UK team want the flies to associate as a bad memory? Smells. Miesenbock and his team already have extensive experience with fly antennae neurons (they published a paper on it) and could test flies readily for smell preference. They exposed flies to two smells, one with the “bad memory laser”, one without. The flies were then allowed to crawl in a small chamber until they came across the two odors, one on each side. Most flies wouldn’t prefer one smell over the other. But those flies who had the correct neurons stimulated by the laser would have a “bad memory” associated with it.

As expected, some flies tended to avoid the “bad memory” smell and move towards the other, even though there was no real-world experience associated with the “bad” smell. The flies had artificially gained a “bad memory” and were acting as if it were real. By tracking which flies behaved accordingly, Miesenbock and his team identified the 12 neurons in a fly brain that are responsible for associative learning. Stimulate those 12 cells, and a fly will likely avoid whatever it is experiencing at the moment.


This stuff is scary and amazingly cool. Just 12 neurons shape the behavior of the entire insect. Imagine the possibilities with humans. By manipulating just a tiny portion of the brain, we could make anything have a negative memory associated with it. The alarmist in me warns that this type of technology could be abused to control people. It could also be used to quit smoking, or eliminate other bad habits. Eventually, this sort of research will hopefully lead to the next step in understanding memories, implanting skills through direct neuron stimulation. Perhaps one day we could have all the experience of a PhD without spending a day in school. For now this is still science fiction, but thanks to flies it has taken one step closer to reality.

Article from: NOHTDT.com



Related Articles
Flies get 'mind-control sex swap'
Cyborg Moth Flies! (Video) & The Pentagon's battle bugs
Robobug goes to war: Troops to use electronic insects to spot enemy 'by end of the year'
Insects Use Plants Like A Telephone
Dragonfly or Insect Spy? Scientists at Work on Robobugs
Pavlovian fear memory induced by activation in the anterior cingulate cortex.
Classical Pavlovian Conditioning - Wiki
Japan Unveils Mind Control Robot (Video)
Mind Control, Electronic Harassment and Voice to Skull Technology
Defense Intelligence Agency Seeking "Mind Control" Weapons
For Future of Mind Control, Robot-Monkey Trials Are Just a Start
Mind Control by Cell Phone
Plasma Lasers for Shielding - and Advertising


Latest News from our Front Page

The Viking ”Maine Penny” Mystery
2015-03-05 3:41
In 1957, during his second year of digging at the Goddard site; a large prehistoric Indian trade village in Penobscot Bay on the central Maine coast, local resident and amateur archaeologist Guy Mellgren found a small silver coin. The coin is later identified by experts as a Norse silver penny dating to the reign of Olaf Kyrre, king of Norway ...
The Sagas of the (Viking) Icelanders Shed Light on Golden Age
2015-03-05 3:40
The Sagas of the Icelanders have long been preserved as the most comprehensive specimen of the literary culture of the 13th and 14th centuries of Iceland. In writing these sagas, many attributes of the 10th and 11th centuries were conserved, particularly individual biographies, the history of family feuds, and the overall evolution of the one of the greatest settlements ...
Benjamin Netanyahu's Full Speech to Congress
2015-03-05 1:36
Here is the full speech of Pathological Zionist Liar Benjamin Netanyahu to the United States Congress. "And the Oscar goes too ...." Description from YouTube: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel used one of the most prominent platforms in the world on Tuesday to warn against what he called a “bad deal” being negotiated with Iran to freeze its nuclear program, bringing ...
The FDA Admits That Prior to 2011 Over 70% of U.S. Chickens Contained Cancer-Causing Arsenic
2015-03-04 20:32
Prior to 2011, the cancer-causing toxic chemical Roxarsone, which in high doses could kill you, was being added to chicken feed on purpose, giving store-bought chicken the illusion of healthy coloring and plump appearance. Shockingly, this was the case with more than 70 percent of all U.S. chickens! A recent article was published stating that this continued to be the ...
The Truth About Starbucks New Coconut Milk: It Isn’t Really Coconut Milk
2015-03-03 22:14
In an attempt to appeal to the non-dairy crowd, Starbucks is bringing “coconut milk” to the masses. After a successful trial run in select cities at the behest of their customers, Starbucks has decided to push forward with their dairy alternative. Providing a non-dairy alternative to dairy and soy is the second most requested customer idea of all time from MyStarbucksIdea.com, ...
More News »