Saffron's Space

BrainA fascinating study has recently been published in Nature which demonstrates the ability of researchers to both inactivate and reactivate memories in rats.

These rats were trained to respond to a certain stimulus. They were then exposed to a depotentiation protocol. After treatment the rats did not respond to the stimulus anymore.

Subsequently the rats were exposed to a potentiation protocol. After treatment the rats once more responded to the original stimulus.

Without getting bogged down in the details this basically means that the scientists were able to make the rats forget a specific memory. They were then able to re-install the memory on command.

This research has fascinating implications and is especially interesting when examined through the filter of science fiction. Without any exaggeration this is brainwashing. Imagine extending the method to humans, you could make them selectively forget something and then at the right moment, remember it again.

Look out horror stories like 1984, the reality just got a whole lot creepier.

Of course there are medical benefits to this research as well. The ability to ‘reactivate’ memories could be priceless to Alzheimer’s patients. There could also be benefits to PTSD sufferers as well.

What can you imagine being done with this research?

Does this research make any of your favourite science-fiction stories a possible reality?

2 Comments so far

  1.    Geronimo Bosch on November 25, 2014 8:10 am      Reply

    Hi Saffron,
    I can imagine human experimentation along these lines being conducted in the near future under anti-terror legislation.
    While terrorists pose a real threat to democratic society, the spectre of this threat is being exaggerated out of all proportion to its precise magnitude.
    This is, in my view, used as an instrument in the schematics of population control.
    In addition to the dramatic rise in economic inequality the world over, we run the risk of creating a two-tier society with one set of laws for rich/poor as well as a form of socialism for those with wealth and dog-eat-dog capitalism for the under-privileged. Some would argue we are already there, the future, and a dystopian one at that, has already arrived.
    Throw into the mix the ability to influence the memories and thought processes of those deemed a ‘threat to society’ and you have many of the tools necessary to safeguard the vested interests of an economic elite over the rest of mankind heading into perpetuity.
    You may feel I paint a bleak picture, but one should never give up hope. Another factor in collective human endeavours which should never be discounted is our capacity for gross incompetence. And we can still debate…
    Yours cocking a snook at the future,

    •    saffron on November 25, 2014 10:22 pm      Reply

      Hey Geronimo,

      Thanks for your comment, and for some excellent points. One of the reasons I wrote about this article was that I think it has excellent potential for an incredible story (both fiction or non-fiction really). And of course I always wonder, if this is what’s been published, how far ahead of this are we scientifically, already?

      If you haven’t read it yet, you might enjoy my post on altering memories – a similar vein to this one and huge potential in terms of ‘controlling’ people.

      Thanks for visiting!


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