Last year, MIT neuroscientists Xu Liu and Steve Ramirez manipulated the memory of a mouse. In a fascinating and mildly troubling breakthrough caused by a laser and the protein channelrhodopsin, they “activated” fear memories in a mouse. The impetus, says Ramirez, was the awful feeling of a break-up, the desire, Eternal Sunshine-style, to erase the […]Continue reading
Why you should listen
Steve is a graduate student at MIT’s Brain and Cognitive Sciences department pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience. His work focuses on finding where single memories are located throughout the brain, genetically tricking the brain cells that house these memories to respond to brief pulses of light, and then using these same flickers of light to reactivate, erase and implant memories. The goals of his research are twofold: to figure out how the brain gives rise to the seemingly ephemeral process of memory, and to predict what happens when specific brain pieces breakdown to impair cognition. His work has been published in Science and covered by New Scientist, Discover, Scientific American, and Gizmodo.
Ramirez aims to be a professor who runs a lab that plucks questions from the tree of science fiction to ground them in experimental reality. He believes that a team-oriented approach to science makes research and teaching far more exciting. When he’s not tinkering with memories in the lab, Ramirez also enjoys running and cheering on every sports team in the city of Boston.
Steve Ramirez’s TED talk
More news and ideas from Steve Ramirez
What happens when the technology for manipulation on the neural level becomes possible? Could there be a future therapy for people with depression or PTSD -- or heartbreak? Do people really want to have their memories manipulated? Elizabeth Loftus, Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu grapple with some big questions.Continue reading
Total Recall, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Inception. In today’s talk, MIT neuroscientists Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu admit that their latest study — in which they located a specific memory in a mouse’s brain and designed a system to activate and deactivate it at will — might remind people of these movies. And there […]Continue reading