Researchers “Copy and Paste” Fear From One Memory to Another


In this article for Discover Magazine, I explore a new set of experiments that sound like the plot of a bizarre sci-fi movie: Researchers taught a group of mice to fear a certain section of a maze, then electronically copied the mice’s fear from that memory and pasted it onto a different memory! How the hell did they do this? What does it tell us about how we form memories?

Redondo and his team decided to take things one step further, and find out if it was possible to link the mice’s existing memories of fear and reward with completely new and different experiences. So the team used light to reactivate the mice’s fear memories again, this time while those mice interacted with a female. Sure enough, after nine days of this conditioning, the mice had become terrified of their romantic playmates — meaning the researchers had essentially “copied and pasted” the fear from the shock memory onto the mice’s memories of the female.

Read my full article at Discover Magazine.

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