When an important document lands on your desk, you might file it away for safekeeping. The same thing happens with our memories: they first appear in one part of the brain and then move to another for long-term storage in a process known as memory consolidation.
Publishing in the journal Science, Kyoto University’s Akihiro Goto uses mouse brains to demonstrate a new neural-optic system to manipulate memories. The technique hinders nerve activity — known as long-term potentiation or LTP — which would otherwise consolidate memory during sleep.
LTP strengthens synapses through neural activity and is critical for memory formation. When and where memories are formed in the brain can be determined by examining when and which cells undergo LTP.
Drugs can disrupt LTP, but they have a general effect and are not good at targeting specific brain regions at specific time points in memory…