If you don't currently have a loved one who, in your old age, will read you passages from your most cherished moments in life, don't worry.
You may one day be able to record your memories and play them back until they're stuck like glue. Here's how — well, here's how the lab rats do it anyway:
The rats first practiced a simple memory task: To get a refreshing drink of water, hit one lever in a cage, then-after a short distraction-hit the other. They had to remember which lever they'd already pushed to know which one to push the second time.
As the rats did this memory task, an array of electrodes recorded signals between two subregions of the hippocampus, called CA1 and CA3, which are involved in storing new information in long-term memory.
The researchers then gave the rats a drug that kept CA1 and CA3 from communicating. The rats still knew the general rules of the task-press one lever then the other, get water-but couldn't remember which lever they'd already pressed.
When the scientists played back the neural signals from CA1 they'd recorded earlier, however, the rats again remembered which lever they had hit, and pressed the other one.
When researchers played back the signals in rats not on the drug-amplifying the regular signals from CA1-the rats made fewer mistakes and remembered which lever they'd pressed for longer.
According to the article, the next step in the process is to test this theory on primates so it's unclear as to when —if ever— a cure will make it to the doorstep of someone who has suffered a stroke or currently has dementia.
However, if you're just someone who wishes to improve an occasionally faulty memory, faithfully reciting the details of your favorite memories over and over again in a fairly private part of your home may just do the trick.