Scientists Trace Memories of Things That Never Happened - NYTimes.com
Liz Bugarin stashed this in She blinded me with SCIENCE!
"The tools of optogenetics, which are transforming neuroscience, were used to locate and chemically label neurons, as well as make them susceptible to activation by blue light transmitted by a fiber optic cable. With these techniques the researchers were able to identify and label which neurons were involved in forming the initial memory of the first environment, and to reactivate the labeled cells a day later with light.
Dr. Tonegawa said that because the mechanisms of memory formation are almost certainly similar in mice and humans, part of the importance of the research is “to make people realize even more than before how unreliable human memory is,” particularly in criminal cases when so much is at stake.
That unreliability, he said, prompts a question about evolution: “Why is our brain made in such a way that we form false memories?”
No one knows, he said, but he wonders if it has to do with the creativity that allows humans to envision possible events and combinations of real and imagined events in great detail. That rich internal experience fuels work in the arts and sciences and other creative activities, he said. “Unless you have that kind of ability, there is no civilization,” he said.
But it could also provide raw material for false memories — a possible “tradeoff for this tremendous benefit.”"
Would people want it if we could replace our brains with more reliable storage?
I'm sure there are some who would.
Would you do it if you could? Would you back up your brain from time to time if you could?
Wow. Can anyone say "Total Recall"?!!
It does remind me of that. Who knew that our memories are so unreliable?
Adam, I don't know whether I would or not. On the one hand I think it'd be cool, but if things go wrong, what happens then? Like if your brain backup is stored somewhere and gets hacked or corrupted, would you end up with a mishmash of missing memories? Something like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is what I could see happening, and I'm sure there would be a load of unforeseeable long-term side effects as well.
Also bad: what if your memories get downloaded into someone else? Would there be two of you?
It has mind boggling ramifications for what is essentially us. We are more than our memories, right?
That's the plot of a sci-fi novel by Robert A. Heinlein: I Will Fear No Evil
Scientists are manipulating memories:
Is that worth its own PandaWhale page?
Evelyn Rusli says it reminds her of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: