Our memories reside in specific brain cells: MIT researchers

The 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.

Updated: Oct 25, 2015, 00:19 AM IST
Our memories reside in specific brain cells: MIT researchers

Zee Media Bureau/Udita Madan

New Delhi: Good memories, bad memories, memories that make us emotional and memories that induce a sense of being in us.

We have all sorts of memories that we remember from time to time. There is always something that remind us of a particular memory and takes us on a nostalgia trip.

But where do these memories actually reside? You spend a wonderful day and the memory of that day stay with you, but where?

The answer to this question was revealed by researchers from MIT. Brain cells!

Yes. The 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.

Although MIT researchers experimented on mice to come to this conclusion, it's very likely that the human brain functions in the same manner.

According to the report on MIT News (news.mit.edu), Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience at MIT and lead author of the study said, “We demonstrate that behavior based on high-level cognition, such as the expression of a specific memory, can be generated in a mammal by highly specific physical activation of a specific small subpopulation of brain cells, in this case by light. This is the rigorously designed 21st-century test of Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield’s early 1900s accidental observation suggesting that mind is based on matter.”