"The study suggests that RNA populations are the missing link in the search for memory", Bridget Queenan, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who was not involved in the study, writes in an email to The Scientist.
A new research could disprove traditional neuroscience.
Study coauthor David Glanzman of the University of California, Los Angeles, has been working on the cell biology of learning and memory for almost 40 years, and says for the majority of that time he believed memory was stored at synapses. According to the researchers, the results show that memories are stored in the nuclei of neurons, where specific genes are activated and synthesizes corresponding ribonucleic acid. It is now understood to have other important functions besides protein coding, including regulation of a variety of cellular processes involved in development and disease. He found the recipient sea snails became sensitised, suggesting the "memory" of the electrical shocks had been transplanted. They received one shock every 20 minutes, five times in a row followed by five more after 24 hours. After these shocks were administered. the snail's defensive withdrawal reflex - where the snails contract in order to protect themselves from harm.
When the researchers subsequently tapped the snails, they found those that had been given the shocks displayed a defensive contraction that lasted an average of 50 seconds, a simple type of learning known as "sensitization".More news: Today is Deadline to Register to Vote in June 5 Primary Election
The life scientists extracted RNA from the nervous systems of marine snails that received the tail shocks the day after the second series of shocks, and also from marine snails that did not receive any shocks.
The scientists also injected RNA from one group of untrained snails into another to make sure it wasn't just the injection process that caused the snails to change their behaviour.
WIKIMEDIA, GENNY ANDERSONResearchers have transferred a memory from one snail to another via RNA, they report today (May 14) in eNeuro.
As expected, the control group of snails did not display the lengthy contraction.More news: Why scientists are close to finding a cure for the common cold
The shocked snails had been "sensitised" to the stimulus.
Meanwhile, the untrained snails who had received RNA from untrained donors did not exhibit any change in their defensive response. Zapping the culture with a bit of current excited the sensory neurons much more than neurons treated with RNA from nonshocked snails. Adding RNA from a marine snail that was not given the tail shocks did not produce this increased excitability in sensory neurons.
Long-term memory is thought to be housed within modified connections between brain cells.
"These are marine snails and when they are alarmed they release a handsome purple ink to hide themselves from predators".More news: Khloe Kardashian reveals who picked baby's name