Tags: snail | memory | transplant

Snail Memory Transplant Performed Using RNA, Scientists Say

Snail Memory Transplant Performed Using RNA, Scientists Say
Scientists used California sea hare snails for the memory transplant experiment. (Kojihirano/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Monday, 14 May 2018 06:11 PM

Scientists believe they have successfully transplanted the memory of snails into other snails.

The research, published in the journal eNeuro, could help inform where memories are stored in human cells and neurons.

In the study, UCLA scientists first gave mild electric shocks to the snails’ tails, causing them to have a defensive withdrawal reflex for 50 seconds when simply tapped, the BBC reported. They then extracted RNA — an acid found in all living cells — from the snails’ nervous systems and injected it into other snails that had not developed the reaction.

The snails that received the implants had a defensive reaction of about 40 seconds after the implants, even though they had not had a reaction previously, the BBC reported.

It was “as though we had transferred the memory,” study co-author and UCLA professor David Glanzman said, the BBC reported.

The study suggests some memories may be stored in genetic code, at least in animals, Live Science said.

Glanzman said the snail memory transplant shows memories may not reside in synapses as previously thought.

“If memories were stored at synapses, there is no way our experiment would have worked,” he said, the BBC reported.  Instead, Glanzman believes they may be storied in the nuclei of neurons, a theory that needs more study to be definitively shown. 

Many other scientists do not think the study shows a memory transplant, and point out that snails are vastly different than humans in their makeup and brain structure.

“We must be very careful in drawing comparisons to human memory processes, which are much more complex,” professor of memory at Cardiff University Prof Seralynne Vann said, The Guardian reported.

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UCLA scientists believe they have successfully transplanted a snail's memory into another snail.
snail, memory, transplant
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2018-11-14
Monday, 14 May 2018 06:11 PM
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