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Researchers show that memories reside in specific brain cells

Researchers show that memories reside in specific brain cells
Our fond or fearful memories — that first kiss or a bump in the night — leave memory traces that we may conjure up in the remembrance of things past, complete with time, place and all the sensations of the experience. Neuroscientists call these traces memory engrams. But are engrams conceptual, or are they a physical network of neurons in the brain? In a new MIT study, researchers used optogenetics to show that memories really do reside in very specific brain cells, and that simply activating a tiny fraction of brain cells can recall an entire memory — explaining, for example, how Marcel Proust could recapitulate his childhood from the aroma of a once-beloved madeleine cookie. In that famous surgery, Penfield treated epilepsy patients by scooping out parts of the brain where seizures originated. Fast forward to the introduction, seven years ago, of optogenetics, which can stimulate neurons that are genetically modified to express light-activated proteins. False memory

http://www.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/conjuring-memories-artificially-0322.html

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