A Queensland researcher thinks that long-term memory could be stored in DNA. It’s a radical concept that he’s going to test over the next year.
Geoff Faulkner already has evidence that there are lots of bits of mobile DNA in memory cells. One piece, known as L1, can insert itself into the genome of individual brain cells.
His work may have consequences for how memories form, for brain disorders such as schizophrenia, and even spill over into diseases such as haemophilia, muscular dystrophy and some forms of cancer.
Changes in the epigenome may also play a role—and he and Ryan Lister are collaborating on how Geoff’s mobile DNA interacts with the epigenome. Geoff received the 2014 Centenary Institute Lawrence Creative prize for his big idea.
For more information: Centenary Institute, www.centenary.org.au/support-us/lawrence-creative-prize/