Science says artificial memories can be created

A bald mouse at an animal laboratory in China. China Photos/Getty Images

Artificial memories can be created during sleep, according to a study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

The study demonstrates that associations between a particular place and a reward can be formed in mice while they sleep and that these drive behaviour once they wake up.

Place cells, found in a region of the brain called the hippocampus, are activated when an animal is in a specific location in its environment.

Activity patterns generated in these cells during waking are replayed during sleep, which is thought to help consolidate a cognitive map of an animal’s environment.

Karim Benchenane of ESPCO ParisTech and colleagues stimulated the mouse brain reward pathways encoding a particular location.

While previous studies have shown that memories can be artificially manipulated in mice, this is the first to show this manipulation in sleeping animals.

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