Do You Want to Erase a Memory?

July 4, 2016

It is fascinating how science is catching up with what science fiction writers foresaw decades ago. I'm not sure whether that is a good thing, as the future of mankind was so many times in peril due to the same #technological advances the writers imagined...

 

Playing with memories, while disrupting our ability to distinguish what is real from what was artificially imprinted on our brain is a popular notion at the core of many science fiction novels. Recently, researchers at the Leibniz Institute for #Neurobiology have made a small step into making that science fiction notion a reality.

 

Can you imagine how different our life would be if we could erase any #memory we wanted through a simple procedure?

 

Some diseases have shown us that the body is capable of erasing memories but for the time being no one can control what is and isn't removed. These #researchers may be very close to discover how to do it deliberately. By switching off a particular gene, the team of researchers was able to erase the memory of associative learning in mice.

 

Associative learning is a simple learning process during which we assign an external factor to a regular action. One simple example would be at school when the lunch bell rings.  By hearing it over and over again, we know that food will follow, and our bodies become naturally ready for digestion.

 

Using mice, the team trained them to move from one side of a room to another at the cue of a light.  After the successful training, the team deactivated the neuroplastin gene in half the mice and discovered that mice with that gene switched off could no longer perform the routine. They had forgotten how to do it!

 

Further research is needed to discover whether neuroplastin plays a role in other forms of learning but this is definitely the foundation for memory manipulation... Would it improve our lives? I'm not sure.

 

I understand it could help some people that are suffering too much due to a past event but starting to manipulate memories may quickly backfire, turning us into immature human beings that do the same mistakes over and over again...

 

To me, our #memories make us who we are.  Every single one of them (even if it hurts remembering some) is important.

 

 

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