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  • A mystery source is producing banned ozone-destroying chemicals
  • Water filter inspired by Alan Turing passes first test
  • Scientists transplant memory from one snail to another
  • In an interplanetary first, NASA to fly a helicopter on Mars
  • Facebook privacy: Europe to press Zuckerberg
  • Israeli researchers abuzz about orgasmic fruit flies
  • Scientists transplant memory from one snail to another
    In a scientific first researchers have transferred memories between sea snails by injecting RNA from a trained sea snail into one that hasn't been trained - and observing the trained response in the second snail.

    The researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, were hoping to understand something called the engram - a physical trace of memory storage. Recent studies have found that long-term memory can be restored after amnesia with the aid of a priming component. This process seems to involve epigenetic modification - something RNA is heavily involved in. And RNA is also involved in the process of forming long-term memories. This led the team to the possibility that some aspects of long-term memory could be transferred via the molecule.

    To test their hypothesis, they trained sea snails by applying a mild, but still unpleasant, electric shock to the tails of a sea snail called Aplysia californica. The researchers administered five electric shocks to the training group of snails, one every 20 minutes. Then, 24 hours later, the researchers repeated the process. When researchers tapped the snails afterward, those that had received the shock training contracted their bodies into a defensive posture for an average of around 50 seconds - but the snails that had not been trained only contracted for about one second.

    For the next step, RNA was extracted from both the trained and untrained snails. The molecules were then injected into two groups of untrained snails. The untrained snails that had received RNA from the trained group then responded to taps as though they had been shocked too - contracting defensively for an average of 40 seconds. Meanwhile, the untrained snails who had received RNA from untrained donors did not exhibit any change in their defensive response.

    Science Alert / eNeuro    May 15, 2018