Scientists Used Light to Enhance Memories in Mice While They Slept

When it comes to the role of sleep in memory formation, it’s all about the timing.

By Daniel Oberhaus | MOTHERBOARD

Back in high school, when tests were an unfortunately regular aspect of my life, I figured out a way to avoid as much studying as possible while also still getting a passing grade: sleep. I realized that when I would study just before going to bed, I would wake up in the morning with the information from the night before still fresh in my mind and ready to be regurgitated for the exam. My evidence for this „brain hack“ was anecdotal, but as it turns out there is quite a bit of researchthat buoys my hunch: Sleep does help fortify memories.

The question, however, is whether the role of sleep in consolidating memoriescan be enhanced, paving the way for controlled memory manipulation in the future. According to new research from the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea, the answer appears to be yes.

As detailed in Neuron, researchers at the IBS Center for Cognition and Sociality demonstrated for the first time that they were able to affect the memory of mice—for better and worse—by artificially modulating certain types of brainwaves called spindles using optogenetics, a method of manipulating neurons with light.

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