Scientists have been able to successfully implant memories of events that never happened in to mice.
The idea of giving someone false memories is well known from science fiction movies such as 'Total Recall' in which Arnold Schwarzenegger has memories of a holiday to Mars implanted in to his brain. The study indicates that it is possible to hold memories of something that didn't happen and has even raised concerns over the validity of witness testimonies in court.
"Whether it's a false or genuine memory, the brain's neural mechanism underlying the recall of the memory is the same," said senior researcher Professor Susumu Tonegawa. "Humans are highly imaginative animals. Just like our mice, an aversive or appetitive event could be associated with a past experience one may happen to have in mind at that moment, hence a false memory is formed."
"Scientists genetically modified mice so that their brain cells produced a light sensitive chemical when they formed new memories."
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