The Brains blog is excited for the first webinar of the year over at Neural Mechanisms this Friday. The event is free. Find information about how and when to join the webinar here: https://www.neuralmechanisms.org/blog/january-03rd-2019 (and below).
Memory and Optogenetic Intervention:
Separating the Engram from the Ecphory
Sarah Robins (University of Kansas)
Abstract. Optogenetics makes possible the control of neural activity with light. In this paper, I explore how the development of this experimental tool has brought about methodological and theoretical advances in the neurobiological study of memory. I begin with Semon’s (1921) distinction between the engram and the ecphory, explaining how these concepts present a methodological challenge to investigating memory. Optogenetics provides a way to intervene into the engram without the ecphory that, in turn, opens up new means for testing theories of memory error. I focus on a series of experiments where optogenetics is used to study false memory and forgetting. I conclude with discussion of the recent discovery of “silent engrams” (e.g., Roy, Muralidhar, Smith, & Tonegawa, 2017) using optogenetics and the way in which these results create further opportunities and challenges for engram theory.