A new television documentary named ‘Memory Hackers’ which was broadcast on PBS over in America last week has claimed that scientists are now able to delete your unwanted memories a la the classic film Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.
Andre Fenton – a prominent neuroscientist who is working on a technique to erase painful memories and believes he’s close to cracking it – says the following:
For much of human history, memory has been seen as a tape recorder that faithfully registers information and replays it intact.
But now, researchers are discovering that memory is far more malleable, always being written and rewritten, not just by us but by others.
We are discovering the precise mechanisms that can explain and even control our memories.
Forgetting is probably one of the most important things that brains will do.
We understand only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to human memory.
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Hmm. It doesn’t sound like he’s that close to actually learning how to erase human memories if they’re only understanding the ‘tip of the iceberg’, but I suppose it’s good that they’re trying and there’s hope.
However the documentary does also interview Julia Shaw, a professor at South Bank University who has designed a system to impulse false memories into people’s brains and has proved this by convincing people that they’ve committed crimes that never even took place.
A clinical psychologist named Merel Kindt has also revealed she has managed to remove the negative associations of some memories via medication, which has enabled her to cure arachnophobia in some subjects.
Again, this isn’t exactly the be all and end all of memory applications, but like Fenton said we’re only on the tip of the iceberg. The fact that these techniques alone even exist is pretty amazing, and I’m sure there’ll be more advancements in the near future too.
Personally I don’t know if I would want my painful memories erased though. I mean sure a few shitty things have happened to me that I wish hadn’t and they completely sucked at the time, but you get over them in time and they make you who you are today.
Of course, there are some memories that may be too painful for certain people to relive, in which case this is probably a good idea. I’m not really sure how close Fenton is to figuring it all out, but the fact that he believes one day that it could be a reality is an exciting prospect. I just hope he gets to the bottom of it whilst I’m still alive.
Check this out for more information on the actual science behind this process.