Claudia Lopez


University of Pennsylvania

My name is Claudia Lopez and I am a neuroscience PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania. I am interested in understanding why and how neurodegeneration occurs. The focus of my thesis research is studying the mechanisms of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.

Claudia has authored 1 article

Garbage mitochondria may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease

Read now →

Taking out the trash improves key symptoms of neurodegenerative disease

Claudia has left Comment 1 peer comment

Humans are two developmental stages away from monkeys

Read now →

Less than 50 of our 20,000 genes are unique to humans. What separates us from monkeys?

Comment 2 peer comments
Claudia has shared 1 note

Memories can be surgically implanted into brains now (yes, in mice)

Did you ever think you would hear the term ‘implanted memory’ in an academic article rather than while watching a sci-fi movie? Well, this recent paper in Nature Neuroscience describing how scientists were able to create or “implant” an artificial memory into mice might blow your mind. 

Scientists did this with optogenetics, which allows researchers to control neurons by shining light on them. Using this technique, they simultaneously activated an area of the brain related to the perception of an odor and areas of the brain associated with either reward or aversion. They were able to make mice respond to an odor they had never smelled before as if they had.

Implantation of false memories in mice had previously been achieved. In that study, scientists were able to alter a previous fear memory in mice by activating the  cells that contained the memory. However, what's more exciting is that in the new study the researchers were able to actually “create” an artificial memory from scratch. This is the first time this has successfully been done without any external sensory experience, just by manipulating specific areas of the brain! 

a person's hands holding large black rat

Researchers are now able to make mice "remember" something that never happened

 Photo by on Unsplash 

More surprisingly, the resulting artificial memory was quite similar to a real memory, as they both depended on the activity of the basolateral amygdala. But before  you start questioning whether Inception is now possible, understand that this was done in mice. Memory systems in humans are considerably more complex, meaning that manipulating them might take more than just a little bit of activation.