Virtual reality in mice and humans is changing the way we understand and treat the brain!
How do we learn? How do we diagnose learning and memory disorders and the effectiveness of therapies?
In a series of recent ground breaking papers (1,2,3), Mayank Mehta's lab has developed novel protocols where memory in mice can be tested in virtual reality conditions that can also be used to test human memory. This provides a platform for diagnosis of learning and memory disorders that could be used in both mice and humans. The results of these pioneering studies, published in three recent high impact papers, show that hippocampal place cells also behave like episodic cells and their activity is modified by Hebbian plasticity to facilitate spatial and episodic memories. Remarkably, the Mehta lab studies also point to a novel way to boost hippocampal theta rhythm that could be used to enhance neuroplasticity and learning and memory!
Two examples of news coverage of these incredible findings can be found in here and here