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Biology Article

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Biology Article

Isaac Ayers

Professor Carol Hoban

SCI115012VA016-1136-001 Introduction to Biology

August 2, 2013 *

The title of the article that I have chosen for this assignment is “The Era of Memory Engineering Has Arrived”. The article begins by explaining a basic plot of a sci-fi movie in which the main character has had his memories altered by scientists using electrode caps. The article then goes into detail about how a new set of experiments, led by MIT neuroscientists Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu in Susumu Tonegawa’s lab, shows that by using a stunning set of molecular neuroscience techniques. Scientists have captured specific memories in mice, altered them, and shown that the mice behave in accord with these new, false, implanted memories. The scientists needed a way of labeling neurons that were active during a specific experience, and a switch to make them work. It has been found that by using by using the molecule Channelrhodopsin, in already genetically modified mice. Scientists could see recent events that had been recorded to specific brain cells in those mice (Castro 2013). The article then states how with the use of doxycycline, the scientists were able to turn off the labeling or recording process of the experiment. This is important because the scientists were able to label memories in specific times and places. Once the scientists had labeled a memory to the mice, and were able to re-awaken that memory by using light that was shone onto the rodents brains. The scientists were able to (with the use of electrical shocks and a new setting) induce fear, making the mice believe that they had been shocked in a setting in which they really had not (Castro 2013). The article ends with the author discussing some positive outcomes of memory engineering, such as being able to recreate memories lost by age or disease and erasing life-destroying memories. This article relates to this course by the information stated in chapter 10 Biotechnology in our textbooks. In (Chapter 10, Section 5 Genetically Modified Humans on page 183-184) our textbook explains the uses of genetic engineering to treat diseases such as AIDS, sickle-cell anemia and Parkinson’s disease. The information from this course provide me with a basic concept of genetic engineering, which help me understand why memory engineering would be useful in treating mental diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and PTSD. This article caught my attention because; my wife’s grandmother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. I have seen the effects that a condition such as Alzheimer’s can have on a family. This topic relates to me directly because as a 10 year veteran who has deployed to Afghanistan, I was recently diagnosed with PTSD. If there were some kind of medical breakthrough, that could suppress and/ or erase memories from a specific time period. All war veterans who suffer from PTSD could benefit from this engineering. I feel that this research should be funded by taxpayer’s monies. If our brave men and women in uniform are willing to risk their lives for our safety, the least that taxpayers can do is support and fund research that could positively affect the mental condition of our American military members.

References

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=era-memory-engineering-has-arrived

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