Discovered: Evidence ancient Mars was dry; short kids depress moms; swine flu mutation; creating artificial memories in rat brain tissue is still a long way off from Total Recall.
Total Recall? Like something out of Philip K. Dick's "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale," scientists can now plant memories in our brains! Ah! At least that's how Gizmodo wrote up a study by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine professor Ben Strowbridge and Ph.D student Robert A. Hyde. The actual findings are less ripe for Hollywood sci-fi epics, but still fascinating. Hyde and Strowbridge were able to store artificial short-term memories in isolated bits of rodent brain tissue for about 10 seconds, marking "the first time anyone has found a way to store information over seconds about both temporal sequences and stimulus patterns directly in brain tissue," says Strowbridge, who published the findings in the upcoming issue of Nature Neuroscience. Sorry to anyone who expected this research would allow them to purchase vivd, immersive memories of traveling to Mars. But those interested in the neurological formation of memories should be excited. "This paves the way for future research to identify the specific brain circuits that allow us to form short-term memories," says Strowbridge. [Science Daily]
A new swine flu could come after humans. Last month, the Centers of Disease Control announced 12 newly discovered human cases of the H3N2 swine flu virus. Scientists have since found that flu strains found in commercial pig lots may be mutating into a strains able to infect and spread among humans. Clinical trials showed a swine flu mutation culled from pig slaughterhouses catching on in a ferret population and killing them swiftly. That's bad news because ferrets are commonly used to model human flu responses. But don't panic! "This is not a 'We're all going to die' type of virus," says study co-author and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital virologist Richard Webby, reassuringly. "It's more that we need to be vigilant and maintain surveillance of influenza in pigs." [Los Angeles Times]