RNA, or ribonucleic acid, has been widely known as a cellular messenger that makes proteins and carries out DNA's instructions to other parts of the cell.
The type of RNA relevant to these findings is believed to regulate a variety functions in the cell involved with the development and disease.
In his team's latest experiments, Glanzman and his colleagues zapped snails' tails, then pulled the abdominal neurons from the shocked snails, extracted their RNA, dissolved the RNA into deionized water, and injected the solution into the necks of snails that had never been shocked. The research provides new clues in the search for the physical basis of memory. Zapping the culture with a bit of current excited the sensory neurons much more than neurons treated with RNA from nonshocked snails. But through repeated shocks, the researchers trained them to curl for longer, up to about 50 seconds. Those that had not been given the shocks contracted for only about one second.
"So, these snails are alarmed and release ink, but they aren't physically damaged by the shocks", he explained. When they were shocked, the snails that weren't injected with RNA curled for only a few seconds, the way all snails do when they haven't been trained.
Scientists extracted RNA from the nervous systems of the snails that received the shocks and injected it into a small number of marine snails that had not been sensitised in this way. Then underwent RNA Guinea rabbits with nerve nodes in the body other slugs, which is not affected by the shock.
In a statement for The Guardian, Glanzman commented on the nature of the experiment, noting that the type of memories that were transplanted from one snail to another was crucial to the success of the procedure. The researchers also tested some of the same techniques on snail neurons in a petri dish. He found that introducing the RNA directly to the neurons "increased (their) excitability".
In the field of neuroscience, it has always been thought that memories are stored in synapses.
Glanzman said the snail memory transplant shows memories may not reside in synapses as previously thought.
Yes, sea snails may have 20,000 neurons - a paltry sum compared to humans' 100 billion.