Inception, The Matrix, Total Recall, Minority Report, Men in Black, Dollhouse. In science fiction we seem to have a fascination with manipulating memories. Now scientists have figured out a way to delete traumatic memories. According to DVICE, Johns Hopkins researchers have removed scary memories in mice:
It’s generally thought that the amygdala is responsible for forming memories that are connected with emotional events, and the researchers were able to determine that there’s one particular protein in the nerve cells of the amygdala that helps to make that connection and establish the memory.
Right now, the process only works in mice and only within 48 hours of a scary event. While certainly using this technology to help those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome is a win-win, I suppose it could also be used in reverse to help use retain our memories longer and with greater clarity. Despite this upside, science fiction has long been examining the potential pitfalls of tinkering with our memories. A letter to the New York Times Consults column cites the main problem:
Only in situations where a person has been completely destroyed from an experience, where there is nothing positive to learn. But even then, we are denying reality, denying life. And for better or worse, our memories define who we are.
Are you missing Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse right about now? What’s your favorite science fiction treatment of memory manipulation?