We photographers are fond of saying that “it’s all about the light” when talking about capturing a great photograph.
But what about the (photographic?) memories stored in our minds and which some of us have lost as a result of amnesia?
Researchers at MIT have been able to reactivate memories that could not otherwise be retrieved, using light. Using a technology known as optogenetics, proteins are added to neurons in an area of the brain called the hippocampus to allow them to be activated with light.
Basically, this ground breaking research dissociates the mechanisms used in memory storage from those of memory retrieval. It could well be that people suffering retrograde amnesia (which follows traumatic injury, stress, or diseases such as Alzheimer’s) can still store new memories, but cannot retrieve them. Optogenetics may provide a way to retireve them.
The research and science behind this discovery is beyond this writer, so I invite you, if you are so scientifically inclined, to read the article at: MIT News.