Researchers Erased Memory of Rats By Manipulating Specific Brain Waves

Science states that different types of electrical waves occurring in the brain during sleep have a say for our short and long-term memory. The brain decides for itself if he will remember or forget things the next morning. This can explain why some fail to recall a thing when they wake up.

The researchers controlled the rats’ brains to remember or forget a skill by making fine adjustments to their brainwaves while they were sleeping.

The new study released by the UC San Francisco researchers may have profound usages for the human mind, either by enhancing memories or giving a helping hand to patients that are willing to escape traumatic experiences.

The study appeared on October 3 in the journal Cell. The team of researchers used a procedure called optogenetics to erase specific memories of rats, and the trial was a complete success.

How The Experiment Evolved

They noticed that two different sleep brain waves are responsible for recalling a newly learned skill – the slow oscillations and delta waves. Previously, the rats have been taught to open a water spout using a neural implant in their brains. Ganguly’s team implanted neural implants in mice’s brains to develop a way that helps people with paralysis control robotic limbs with their thoughts.

Karunesh Ganguly, MD, Ph.D., an associate professor of neurology and a member of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences

In particular, delta waves are a big part of sleep, but they have been less studied, and nobody had ascribed a role to them. We believe these two types of slow waves compete during sleep to determine whether new information is consolidated and stored, or else forgotten.

During sleep, there is a constant battle between these brain waves, and our beloved memories can hang in their balance.

It is not necessary to remember everything you’ve done or said in the past or all the faces you met on the street. Scientists believe that forgetfulness is gold, as it clears away some unuseful information that would undoubtedly burden us.

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