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When Scientists Succeeded in Transplanting Memory in Snails


SPL/BBC News

Scientists conducted an experiment using the sea slug Aplysia californica.

Nationalgeographic.co.id—Memory transfer is often a topic discussed in science fiction works. Now, a team has succeeded in transplanting memories by transferring a form of genetic information called RNA from one snail to another.

Snails are trained to develop defensive reactions. When RNA is introduced into snails that have not undergone this process, they behave as if they have been sensitized.

Research published in the journal eNeuro can provide new clues in the search for the physical basis of memory. RNA stands for acid ribonukleat. It is a large molecule that is involved in a variety of important roles in biological organisms, including the assembly of proteins and the way genes are expressed more generally.

Scientists give a mild electric shock to the tail of a species of sea slug called Aplysia californica. After this shock is delivered, the reflex of withdrawal of the snail’s defenses in which the snail contracts to protect itself from danger becomes more pronounced.

When the researchers then tapped the snails, they found the snails that were given the shock showed a defensive contraction lasting about 50 seconds, while the snails that didn’t receive the shock only contracted for about one second. The startled snail is “sensitive” to the stimulus.

The scientists extracted RNA from the nervous system of the snail that received the shock and injected it into a small number of sea slugs that had not been sensitized in this way.


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