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'Memory transplant' achieved in snails

By BBC News

Memories are transferred from one snail to another in a laboratoryRead full story

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  • Extremely interesting study into RNA induced memory like responses in snails. It gets you thinking about how exactly the process of memory formation and storage over time happens. Is it in the connections of neurons? Is it like fragmented data spread over parallel processed cells in a network? Or is it itself the function of nerve cells, connections, and other subtle processes not only in our brains but wherever you can find neurons in our bodies. I’m going to remember this one.

  • James Randorff
    James RandorffMusician, Instructor at US Navy

    This is fascinating research and a very worthwhile read, but I find the headline misleading. Memory is not the same as conditioned response or reaction.

  • Jennifer Hudson
    Jennifer Hudson

    This is like the happiest news I've heard so far. Man is definitely going to get to the point where memories are transferable. However, we must consider that the body mass of a snail is too small, hence, the RNA was easily synthesized in another snail. Man has a large volume to ratio and even how difficult it looks, it's worth a try. Most of us wouldn't have to cry over loves ones because memories are now transferable. The question I have is; the ssnails used for the experiment, what happened to

    This is like the happiest news I've heard so far. Man is definitely going to get to the point where memories are transferable. However, we must consider that the body mass of a snail is too small, hence, the RNA was easily synthesized in another snail. Man has a large volume to ratio and even how difficult it looks, it's worth a try. Most of us wouldn't have to cry over loves ones because memories are now transferable. The question I have is; the ssnails used for the experiment, what happened to them after 1 week. We should know there are going to be side effects when we interfere with natural phenomenon and we want to change things from the way we are. We've gone as far as changing organs, memories should give us some results too. Good or bad, we've learnt.

  • Max Lockie
    Max LockiePlatform Editor at Quartz

    It's like Westworld, but for snails.

  • Ash C
    Ash C

    What an interesting read. The idea that our memories are stored in RNA is surprising; though I wonder if this RNA is only responding because it is a physical threat. I imagine similar responses could be seen passed from one generation to the next. The transfer outlined here wasn’t perfect, after all. In those snails that were shocked and tapped, the response lasted for fifty seconds whereas the response time of the snails that received RNA but not shocks was only 40 seconds.

    In any case, it will

    What an interesting read. The idea that our memories are stored in RNA is surprising; though I wonder if this RNA is only responding because it is a physical threat. I imagine similar responses could be seen passed from one generation to the next. The transfer outlined here wasn’t perfect, after all. In those snails that were shocked and tapped, the response lasted for fifty seconds whereas the response time of the snails that received RNA but not shocks was only 40 seconds.

    In any case, it will be interesting to see where this line of research goes and also how the experimental methods will change. Will other types of memories be tested and transferred next (not just those that relate to possible danger)? I would like to see if it also works on mammals solving puzzles for example.

  • charlie l
    charlie lself at me

    I’ve always been a proponent of DNA research even RNA research. Thing is, if it’s used in the right way it can be a wonderful thing. How many times have you known people to do the right thing with technology? Sometimes it starts out harmless and then it ends up terrifying. We’ll just have to see where this one goes. It would be cool though what if you could have a child born that knew how to speak or knew self-defense without having to instruct them in it. The question is can scientists keep this

    I’ve always been a proponent of DNA research even RNA research. Thing is, if it’s used in the right way it can be a wonderful thing. How many times have you known people to do the right thing with technology? Sometimes it starts out harmless and then it ends up terrifying. We’ll just have to see where this one goes. It would be cool though what if you could have a child born that knew how to speak or knew self-defense without having to instruct them in it. The question is can scientists keep this under control enough to actually be of help eventually, or will they turn it into something evil.

  • Unless we’re going for a “Giver” kind of technological advancement, I’m not sure what the direct applications of memory “transfer” would be. I hope that the findings can move us closer toward curing Alzheimer’s; that most likely would win the experiment the greatest return. It is fascinating how this works, though. And they were quick to note that it didn’t include animal cruelty, however they didn’t exactly specify whether the recoil was due to pain or just surprise. Again, I would be interested

    Unless we’re going for a “Giver” kind of technological advancement, I’m not sure what the direct applications of memory “transfer” would be. I hope that the findings can move us closer toward curing Alzheimer’s; that most likely would win the experiment the greatest return. It is fascinating how this works, though. And they were quick to note that it didn’t include animal cruelty, however they didn’t exactly specify whether the recoil was due to pain or just surprise. Again, I would be interested to hear more of the proposed implications of the study.

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