Consciousness: RNA seems to transfer memory (General)

by David Turell @, Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 19:44 (9 days ago) @ David Turell

From work in snails, some shocked, some not:

https://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/54565/title/RNA-Moves-a-Memory-F...


"Researchers have transferred a memory from one snail to another via RNA, they report today. If confirmed in other species, the finding may lead to a shift in scientists’ thinking about how memories are made—rather than cemented in nerve-cell connections, they may be spurred on by RNA-induced epigenetic changes.

***

"The team found that the snail synapses built to “store” a memory weren’t necessarily the synapses that were removed from the neural circuits in the memory-erasing experiments.
“It was completely arbitrary which synaptic connections got erased,” Glanzman says. “That suggested maybe the memory wasn’t stored at the synapse but somewhere else.”

***

"In his team’s latest experiments, Glanzman and his colleagues zapped snails’ tails, then pulled the abdominal neurons from the shocked snails, extracted their RNA, dissolved the RNA into deionized water, and injected the solution into the necks of snails that had never been shocked.

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"DNA methylation appeared to be essential for the transfer of the memory among snails. When Glanzman and his colleagues blocked DNA methylation in snails getting RNA from shocked ones, the injected snails withdrew their siphons for only a few seconds when tapped on the siphon.

"Glanzman wanted to know if the RNA from shocked snails actually affected the neuronal connections of the snails receiving the injections any differently than RNA from nonshocked snails. So, in a third test, he and his team removed sensory neurons from nonshocked snails, cultured the cells in a dish, and then exposed the cells to RNA from shocked snails. Zapping the culture with a bit of current excited the sensory neurons much more than neurons treated with RNA from nonshocked snails. RNA from shocked snails also enhanced a subset of synapses between sensory and motor neurons in vitro, suggesting it was indeed the RNA that transported the memory, Glanzman explains.

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"Glanzman says that in his next experiments he will attempt to identify the RNAs involved, and he has an idea for the mechanism, too. The memory is not stored in the RNA itself, he speculates—instead, noncoding RNA produces epigenetic changes in the nucleus of neurons, thereby storing the memory.

“'This idea is probably going to strike most of my colleagues as extremely improbable,” Glanzman says. “But if we’re right, we’re just at the beginning of understanding how memory works.'”

Comment: Perhaps some memory is not carried by nerves to start but is stored by DNA causing methylation in the neuron. It is obvious molecules can carry information and impart it. This does not indicate intelligence is required.


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