In 2015, Dr Karim Benchenane from the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, France, and his colleagues demonstrated for the first time that false memories could be created in mice while they were sleeping, reports Horizon magazine.
‘When mice sleep after exploring an environment, you see that the same neurons are reactivated in the same order,’ said Dr Benchenane. ‘Replaying that information in the brain while sleeping is just like repetition in learning. This repetition improves memory consolidation.’
Using electrodes, the team recorded the activity of place cells when mice explored their environment and later when they slept. They then stimulated the brain areas associated with reward when particular place cells fired – each of which is associated with a specific location. When they awoke, the mice had a new memory and headed straight to that reward-associated location.