Fake memories

A flash of light in the brain plants false memories

By Stephen Ornes, 13:46 PM August 7, 2013

Three steps to plant a fake memory in a mouse. First, let the mouse build a real memory of a safe room (left). Second, put the mouse in a room with an electrified floor. Shock the mouse — but add the memory of the shock to the memory of the first room. Third, put the mouse back in the safe room — which the mouse now incorrectly “remembers” as dangerous. Credit: courtesy of Evan Wondolowski/Collective Next

A little light in just the right spot: That's all it takes to get a mouse to remember something that never happened. The spot that needs to be “enlightened” lies deep inside the brain. It’s within a seahorse-shaped region called the hippocampus. By tweaking cells here, scientists have created fake memories — in mice.

Errors frequently plague our memories. The new study shows not only that memory can be unreliable but also that memories can be deliberately altered, at least in the lab.


Source URL: https://student.societyforscience.org/article/fake-memories