Researchers transfer memories between snails

Published: 16 May 2018

This snail has seen things he’d rather forget.

Snails will no longer forget where they live.

This snail has seen things he’d rather forget.
Image © 2018 Pixabay

We’ve all wanted to swap brains with someone else at one point in our lives, well now we are one step closer, with scientists transferring the memory of one snail into another.

It was a bunch of UCLA researchers who managed this slug brain download.

It wasn’t just the memory of some delicious lettuce they ate or a leisurely stroll that took five years, but rather the trained ability to crawl into their shell. 

A group of snails were trained to curl up into their shell for 40 to 50 seconds when given a small shock. Untrained snails only stayed in their shells for one to two seconds when given the same shock.

The researchers were able to shift this behaviour from the trained group to the untrained group by transferring RNA. RNA is a form genetic information and stands for ribonucleic acid.

After the transfer of this generic information, the untrained snails showed the same response as the trained ones (though maybe they were hiding in their shells because a scientist just injected something into their brain).

Though it is still early days for this sort of procedure, who knows what the future holds? Futurism reports that the UCLA team hopes that their research will “modify, enhance, or depress memories”.

So maybe treat PTSD or Alzheimer’s, or hopefully learn to parkour buy getting an injection in your head, the future is bright.