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Researchers were able to transfer the memories of a sea slug scared of being shocked to another sea slug. They were able to do this by transplanting the genetic material of the original sea slug to the other via an injection.

This transfer was able to change the behavior of the sea slugs.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles gave sea slugs a slight electric shock by implanting wires into the tails of California sea hares. This caused them to become scared of being touched, they would contract their gills into a defensive action. After the shocks, scientists took RNA from the slugs that were shocked and injected it into slugs that hadn't been shocked.

Those slugs then changed their behavior, they were more receptive to touch by contracting their siphons for a longer period than those who didn't have the genetic material injected. Siphons are tube-like structures in molluscs in which water flows. This was repeated with sea slugs that had been hooked up to wires but not shocked and it didn't work.

Researchers say that his experiment shows how essential parts of the memory trace or engram can be. This behavior was held in RNA instead of in the connectivity of brain cells. The memory of being shocked was very specific to the sea slug, researchers believe that they found evidence that epigenetic changes were storing memories of the shocks.

Lead author of the study David Glanzman said to the BBC that this can change the way scientists think memories are stored. He said that if the memories were held in the synapses that the experiment would not have been able to work.

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Category: Science