The extraordinary ability to manipulate people’s thoughts and change them within the brain itself has fascinated sci-fi addicts for decades. A few years ago the idea became widely popular again due to the movie “Inception” where the character of Leonardo DiCaprio was able to infiltrate the subconsciousness of his targets and plant thoughts that were not theirs.
However, a distinguished group of neuroscientists from MIT experimented with this very same idea and were able to achieve similar results in mice. The team’s primary target was to understand exactly how false memories are created and stored by the brain in the first place. The team conducted an experiment in which they placed mice in a chamber where the rodents had time to explore the environment and get used to it by storing memories. The next day the same mice were placed into a different chamber where they spent very little time and were mildly electrocuted. When the electricity ran through the mice’s brains it activated the memories gathered in the first chamber. Next thing, the experimental mice were returned to the first chamber on the following day but they were horrified due to connecting the environment with the shocking experience in the second chamber.
It turns out that the scientists were successful at implanting false memories in the mice. Our memories, regardless whether they are real or not, are created in the very same way. Scientists found out that a neural net of cells is being created in our brains each time we experience something completely new. The technique to adjust these specific brain cells and neural nets is called optogenetics. It uses light in order to control and monitor the activity of neurons inside the brain.