Snail Memory Transplant Performed Using RNA, Scientists Say

Snail Memory Transplant Performed Using RNA, Scientists Say

Snail Memory Transplant Performed Using RNA, Scientists Say

RNAs are effectively the messenger that carry out the instructions coded into our DNA.

The type of RNA relevant to these findings is believed to regulate a variety functions in the cell involved with the development and disease.

In an experiment, researchers inflicted painless electric shocks to sea snails known as Aplysia californica.

When Glanzman and his team later physically tapped these slugs on their tails, the creatures contracted for an average of 50 seconds. And when the RNA molecules were transplanted from the trained snails to the untrained snails, they showed the same defensive response like the trained ones. On the other hand, those that did not receive shocks had a defensive contraction that lasted for only one second.

Even though they had not received any shocks, the snails injected with the RNA acted as though they were the ones to have been shocked, contracting for about 40 seconds.

When the RNA from the trained group was inserted into other specimens that had not been trained, the latter group behaved in the same way as those that had been trained.

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"It's as though we transferred the memory [of being shocked]", Glanzman says in the statement.

As expected, the control group of snails did not display the lengthy contraction. The injected snails reacted to gentle touches in the same way that the zapped snails had, while those injected with RNA from untrained snails withdrew for only a short time. They found that neurons of the snails that have been shocked are more excitable compared to the neurons of the snails that have not been shocked.

Scientists were subjected to molluscs of the genus Aplysia weak electric shocks. Interestingly, the researchers discovered, adding RNA from the snails that had been given shocks also produced increased excitability in sensory neurons in a Petri dish; it did not do so in motor neurons. This indicated that the shocked snails had memories of the shocks. He said that if the memories were held in the synapses that the experiment would not have been able to work.

Traditionally, long-term memories were thought to be stored at the brain's synapses, the junctions between nerve cells. He says that researchers are still trying to work out the way of how memories are stored.

Scientists know more about the cell biology of this simple form of learning in this animal than any other form of learning in any other organism, Glanzman said. Sea snails were used as a subject in the research as their nerves transmit impulses much the way humans do. In fact in 2014 his team had already published a paper which implied that lost memories could be restored.

Transhumanists prophesise a future where our memories can be uploaded to the cloud which can then be transferred into a robotic body to live forever.

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