MIT study also identifies the brain circuit that links feelings to memories.
Most memories have some kind of emotion associated with them: Recalling the week you just spent at the beach probably makes you feel happy, while reflecting on being bullied provokes more negative feelings.
A new study from MIT neuroscientists reveals the brain circuit that controls how memories become linked with positive or negative emotions. Furthermore, the researchers found that they could reverse the emotional association of specific memories by manipulating brain cells with optogenetics — a technique that uses light to control neuron activity.
The findings, described in the Aug. 27 issue of Nature, demonstrated that a neuronal circuit connecting the hippocampus and the amygdala plays a critical role in associating emotion with memory. This circuit could offer a target for new drugs to help treat conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, the researchers say.
“In the future, one may be able to develop methods that help people to remember positive memories more strongly than negative ones,” says Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience, director of the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and senior author of the paper.
Memories are made of many elements, which are stored in different parts of the brain. A memory’s context, including information about the location where the event took place, is stored in cells of the hippocampus, while emotions linked to that memory are found in the amygdala.
Previous research has shown that many aspects of memory, including emotional associations, are malleable. Psychotherapists have taken advantage of this to help patients suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, but the neural circuitry underlying such malleability is not known.
The Latest on: Optogenetics
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The Latest on: Optogenetics
- Scientists debunk notions of optogenetics controlling the human brainon November 15, 2023 at 7:32 am
Hegemann’s observations were similar to those of Gero Miesenböck, who developed optogenetics and whom IE interviewed yesterday (November 14) at the forum. Meanwhile, Miesenböck acknowledges ...
- Illuminating the mind: Optogenetics and the work of Gero Miesenböckon November 14, 2023 at 2:52 am
Optogenetics reveals the choreography behind the brain’s behavior and thought processes. Like a remote control, but without the buttons, it uses light to precisely control the activity of ...
- Cardiac Optogenetics: Using Light to Observe and Excite the Hearton August 28, 2021 at 2:25 am
Since the discovery of Channelrhodopsin-2 in the early 2000s and its first application in the heart, optogenetics gained increasing interest in the field of cardiac electrophysiology. The ...
- Benefits Of Optogeneticson May 30, 2020 at 9:35 pm
Optogenetics With the advent of this new technology doctors and psychiatrists may have finally reached the light at the end of the tunnel. Well not exactly, but the state of the art new technology, ...
- Optogenetics For 100 Euroson August 4, 2017 at 12:49 am
Larval zebrafish, Drosophila (fruit fly), and Caenorhabditis elegans (roundworm) have become key model organisms in modern neuroscience due to their low maintenance costs and easy sharing of ...
- New Study Implies Memories Can Be Rewritten Using Optogeneticson February 23, 2016 at 7:37 am
To alter the positive association that the mice have since attached to it, the scientists used a genetic technique called optogenetics, where living brain cells are controlled using fiber optic ...
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