Scientists Use Laser To Give False Memories to Flies
2009 11 11
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
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
Space Elevator By 2035, Says International Academy of Astronautics
2014 03 10
Going up? Way up?
The space elevator - An idea which used to be pure speculative science fiction has gained renewed interest.
ExtremeTech.com lays out the technical challenges of the audacious (crazy?) plan to extend the 100,000-kilometers-long tether into space. Especially problematic to the mission is the fact that the materials and technology needed to create the space elevator don’t actually exist ...
One million Britons descended from Vikings says new study
2014 03 10
A new study is showing that approximately 930,000 people can claim to be of direct Viking descent in Great Britain today, especially in the north of Scotland. The ancient Norse peoples’ influence is still being felt in modern times.
Around one million Britons are directly related to Vikings, with people from the north of Scotland most likely to have Viking ...
Oil Slicks Found Off Malaysia’s Coast Not From Missing Plane
2014 03 10
The search for the Malaysia Airlines flight which mysteriously vanished (and was presumed crashed) deepens.
The flight disappeared off radar March 8, with 239 people on board, losing contact with ground control. It was presumed lost somewhere along it’s flight path between Vietnam and Malaysia.
Over the weekend, officials had reported seeing oil slicks and a single piece of debris ...
Nigel Farage (UKIP) Speech on the EU, UK & Mass Immigration
2014 03 08
UKIP Nigel Farage Spring Conference speech - 2014
Red Ice Radio:
Nigel Farage MEP - The State of the EU & The Undemocratic Treaty of Lisbon
Labour wins UK by-election as Ukip trumps Tories
The ruling coalition in the UK was dealt a blow in the latest by-election test, as the UK Independence party pushed the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats into third and fourth ...
Pentagon studying Putin’s body language to predict his behavior
2014 03 07
The Pentagon has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years so that researchers can study the body movements of foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, in hopes of predicting future behavior.
An article published by USA Today reporter Ray Locker on Thursday and corroborated by documents discovered by RT provides rare insight into a scarcely-discussed military effort that ...
|More News » |