Thursday, March 03, 2016

Memory Hacking

More brain news: It may someday be possible to erase or modify memories or even implant false memories:

Memory Hacking

In the short term, the most practical application of these techniques may be to help people suffering from phobias by changing the emotional impact associated with the relevant memories. A mouse experiment demonstrates the manipulation of the rodent's brain by making it fearful or confident at the will of the experimenter.

This research builds on discoveries that memory is far from the infallible recording of events it was once thought to be, a permanent trace that scientists might someday be able to replay on command. False memories commonly form in everyday life:

"Indeed, new evidence suggests our memories are imperfect and malleable constructs that are constantly changing over time. Each time we recall a memory, we go through the process of revising it. That means any time we recall an old memory, we’re disrupting it. Sadly, the fidelity of our memories degrades over time."

The article introduces a twelve-year-old boy who's a striking exception, a case of Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. Instead of needing help to recall experiences, he literally can't forget anything. This trait isn't an unambiguous superpower. The ability to forget can be a blessing.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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