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Another Way To Erase Memories

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the science-is-cool-i-forget-why dept.

Biotech 232

amigoro writes "Neuroscientists have discovered that long-term memories are not etched in a stable form, like a 'clay tablet,' as once thought. The process is much more dynamic, involving a miniature molecular machine that must run constantly to keep memories going. Jamming the machine briefly can erase long-term memories." A few months back we discussed a similar removal of rat memories by a different method.

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I can see the benefits to this technology (5, Funny)

Late-Eight (1026794) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265079)

If they get to a point where they are able to target specific memories, for example it could be very helpful to people that have suffered a traumatic event. But from the article it sounds like it's just a plan old memory wiper by switching off a running process, and there's no real control over what gets erased. I suppose that's OK if you really don't mind losing the last couple of years.

I am sure there's a list of negative points that could be made against this technology, I just cant remember what they are.

Put the memories down Sandy Burger's pants (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265235)

Put the memories down Sandy Burger's pants

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (4, Insightful)

morari (1080535) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265249)

Erasing traumatic events is not helpful. Learning to accept and cope with a past traumatic event is. People that run and hide aren't people that we need around, we already have too many of them without the advent of memory wipes.

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265345)

Ya, didn't he see Star Trek 5...geesh.

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265347)

I dunno, if I could erase any memories I have had of observing any media involving spongebob, I would consider that *VERY* helpful.

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265567)

You're not supposed to remember observing SpongeBob. My god, if you're watching SpongeBob in a sober state, you're doing things wrong.

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265685)

Family gatherings.

Parents allow kids to watch Sponge Bob.

Not a drinker of Alcohol, and even if I were, drunkenness is frowned upon in my family.

Do the math :-(

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20266097)

The show makes complete sense when you're high... the makers most definitely are stoned.

Maybe you should smuggle some hash into the brownies at your family gathering. 8-)

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (4, Insightful)

OG (15008) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265519)

I'm going to have to disagree with you here. There are some cases where "accepting and coping" isn't an option. And I'm not talking about an in "Eternal Sunshine"-my-girlfriend-broke-up-with-me-and-I'm-r eally-sad type of way. I'm talking about cases where, because of bugs in the fear machinery, people's brains are in an error state that "coping with" can't reverse. Just as cells have normal parameters for homeostasis in which everything functions correctly, so do mental processes. In severe cases, we're not talking about just the psyschological realm. We're talking about gene transcription, protein levels, etc, that are outside of their normal boundaries, and that type of problem isn't easily (or even not so easily) helped by cognitive therapy and coping alone.

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (5, Insightful)

thanatos_x (1086171) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265643)

Yes, obviously rape victims should accept this fact and get on with life.

I can accept we have far too many people with a victim mentality; I can accept that this has a large potential for abuse. I can't say that someone who can't live a normal life because of a traumatic event in the past shouldn't get treatment. Yes it will be a very ethically complex drug even if it worked perfectly, but to deny all uses of the drug? I imagine it might also have some uses in military personel, but... yes, it's a very slippery slope.

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265769)

People that run and hide aren't people that we need around...
Yes, but people who try to drown their pain in alcohol, food, materialism and sex are the engine that drives our pointless economy.

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (1)

mikekoop (1144109) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265943)

With more research it could allow us to let go of our addictions.

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (2)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265251)

The MIB just flash a pen at you and they tell you what you remember.

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (2, Interesting)

OG (15008) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265269)

Exactly. It's interesting, no question, but not necessarily practical.

In order for something like this to be practical, it needs to disrupt reconsolidation. That is, as the theory goes, when a memory is accessed, there is an active process to "re-store" that memory. What would be needed in this treatment is some agent (whether pharmacological or electric or magnetic or whatever) that blocks the reconsolidation process. Then in a clinical setting, that treatment would be delivered, a doctor would guide one through the memory recollection process, and the memory would be "lost" after being accessed. That's the idea, anyway. There may be a few other memories lost in the process, but it would probably be worth it for people having flashback-based episodes (or possibly even addiction), but it's wouldn't be a whitewashing like this ZIP-based method.

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265285)

I'll be damned if I forget all of those very expensive years in college. I had alcohol for that.

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265419)

Hmmmm, interesting bio weapon....instead of killing the society destroy their ability to remember and create a massive slave class instead....sounds like a bad sci-fi novel. Having humans in charge of such tech can be dangerous as with this we can manipulate history.

Paranoia aside finding ways to keep the memories from being lost will be a big boone to the increasing Alzheimer's issue.

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (1)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265715)

That sounds like a GOOD sci-fi novel.

I hope (against all odds) someone makes a decent movie out of your idea.

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265873)

Try "Glasshouse" by Charles Stross.

It is set in the aftermath of a war, which was started by the release of a virus designed to censor peoples memories.

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265899)

Dark City, a bit.

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (4, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20266077)

Hmmmm, interesting bio weapon....instead of killing the society destroy their ability to remember and create a massive slave class instead....sounds like a bad sci-fi novel. Having humans in charge of such tech can be dangerous as with this we can manipulate history.

Paranoia aside finding ways to keep the memories from being lost will be a big boone to the increasing Alzheimer's issue.
Already been kinda sorta done. David Brin short story, archaeologists are going through the landfills of the 20th century for research and start finding skeletons. At first they're thinking it's a few mob murders but they end up finding hundreds, thousands, millions. More landfills are excavated and they wind up with enough skeletons to account for a population approaching the entire United States. No answer was even provided in the story but the one I came up with was body snatcher aliens who replaced the existing humans, chucked the bodies, and took over living as humans, not letting their children know what had really occurred.

A story involving precise memory manipulation like this goes beyond mere Manchurian Candidates, you'd be looking at Memento meets Cold War spy movie. Who is the enemy? What do they know? What do they know that you know? What do they know that you used to know that they don't want you to find out? Do they know that you know that they know that you know that they know that you know? I think synapses would be burnt out just trying to cope.

I had a story idea along these lines, not with memories but with not knowing who is who. Humans lack FTL travel but do have FTL communications via ansible. Humanity is spread across thousands of lightyears in millions of communities and a pervasive metaverse keeps society connected. An eccentric character grows tired of remote experiences, even if they are as keen as real life experience, and he decides to go see his favorite star system personally. He purchases a starship, goes into cryo and makes the voyage. He comes to decades later in a system devoid of human life. Everything is in blasted ruin. He logs back into the metaverse and the system is still there, pretty as you please. He investigates and finally discovers that there is a device of unknown origin sitting at the system's ansible junction. It is providing a high fidelity simulation of the entire ruined system, as if it had never been destroyed.

Who destroyed the system? Why did they do it? Where are they going next? How many systems still exist, how many have been wiped out? Is he the last human? The alien infiltrators are already in the metaverse, you cannot tell if who you are speaking to is really human or alien or mere simulacrum. How can you fight an enemy you cannot even prove is real? Paranoia will destroy ya but that doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.

A-ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265839)

This could explain all the dupes.u

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (1)

cstdenis (1118589) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265975)

Finally a solution to goatse

Re:I can see the benefits to this technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20266141)

I for one, welcome our new self-induced Alzheimer overlords.

I have money (3, Funny)

bensafrickingenius (828123) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265099)

How much would it cost to erase my last 15 years?

Re:I have money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265245)

Using my patented Mallet Method, we can erase your memory for as little as $15 per year you want to erase!
Call 1-800-MalletMe and ask about our specials...

Re:I have money (4, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265287)

How much would it cost to erase my last 15 years?
Probably about as much as the divorce. Unfortunately, your ass will still hurt from the reaming and you won't know why.

Re:I have money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265393)

It only costs fifteen years of your life.

easy enough (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265101)

Obliviate!

More like RAM than a hard drive then? (4, Interesting)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265113)

So this is more like RAM, where it has to have constant power, than it is a hard drive where the bits stay flipped until reversed by something else?

Re:More like RAM than a hard drive then? (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265195)

I always thought it was like flash memory. Now I'll have to keep thinking about old memories or I'll lose all the good ones. ;)

Re:More like RAM than a hard drive then? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265951)

Now I'll have to keep thinking about old memories or I'll lose all the good ones. ;)
I'm sure recalling old memories periodically does refresh them (though I'll bet it also changes them over time, like an Nth generation photocopy). This is different though, they're describing a subconscious chemical process.

Re:More like RAM than a hard drive then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265653)

To me it sounds more like DRAM, it's not SRAM or an HD as they have been thinking.

tag: paycheck (2, Interesting)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265129)

PKD strikes again [wikipedia.org]

I could have told them about this (5, Funny)

been42 (160065) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265143)

The process is much more dynamic, involving a miniature molecular machine that must run constantly to keep memories going. Jamming the machine briefly can erase long-term memories.

Not sure what kind of research these scientists have been doing, but I routinely "jam the machine" with whiskey.

Re:I could have told them about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265631)

Oblig. Simpsons reference:

HOMER: Listen brain, I dont like you and you dont like me, so I'm going to kill you with Duff.

Re:I could have told them about this (1)

deetsay (703600) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265867)

Not sure what kind of research these scientists have been doing, but I routinely "jam the machine" with whiskey.
But my findings would seem to indicate it works better on short-term memories and does little to no good in the long term. :-(

I tried, it. It works. (4, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265175)

For some reason I can't recall why I got married with this beautiful blonde, and why I keep dreaming about going to Mars with a brunette. Or am I just going crazy?

- Douglas Quaid.

Re:I tried, it. It works. (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265229)

Sure it just wasn't due to a pair of men in black?

Re:I tried, it. It works. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265575)

lame comeback to a good ref.

Re:I tried, it. It works. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20266151)

actually it was funny

Re:I tried, it. It works. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#20266045)

Yes. Especially if the blond is prettier than the brunette. Don't try to think about it, it'll only make your eyes bug out of your head.

GHB? (1)

DeepCerulean (741098) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265177)

I hear that works wonders

Re:GHB? (0, Offtopic)

db32 (862117) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265845)

How does George Herbert Walker Bush help you forget memories? Unless there is some secret here as to the truth behind why most Americans can't seem to find Iraq on the map, or have forgotten that Saddam isn't Bin Laden, and so on.

Please please please tell me that they aren't extracting anything and putting it in the water...

They actually discovered this years ago (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265197)

But they forgot to write it down before trying it out.

Yet another... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265211)

You do realize that was based on a story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20266235)

By Philip K. Dick, right?

Ive seen this its awesome (2, Funny)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265223)

I used this jamming machine once and it was ideal for erasing my short term memories.

Its also perfect for erasing short term memories, and it also erases short term memories.

Re:Ive seen this its awesome (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265263)

Does it also work on short term memories?

new-fangled inventions (4, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265247)

I still prefer tequila.

So where was this... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265279)

...when Battlefield Earth was released?

Contractors.... (0, Redundant)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265293)

Paycheck Anyone? [wikipedia.org]

Re:Contractors.... (1)

Fx.Dr (915071) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265333)

Is this in reference to the movies' plot, or how much you'd love to forget you ever saw it?

Re:Contractors.... (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265487)

For some reason I really inexplicably liked it, but yes a reference to the plot.

Re:Contractors.... (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#20266043)

I liked it too. In fact, I've just finally gotten around to reading the original Philip K. Dick short story, and I like the movie better. PKD is great, but many of his early short stories explicitly explain pretty obvious plot points in ways that often just seems out of place, and often too early in the story. In Paycheck, for example, the main character's train of thought is almost immediately used to make it blatantly obvious that he could see the future during his contract, when there was no reason to explain it to the reader.

No thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265321)

What's scary to me is the assumption that memories are not tied into any other function besides conscious dreaming. I hope this memory erasure business never comes to light.

not a chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265327)

sure, rats can serve as a puzzle pick but the parallells are not equatable to human experience.
ever seen that scene in "Born on the 4th of July" where all of the drunken parapalegics are like plowing down the stairs after hooking up with those asian prostitutes? .we remember shit.

How about *adding* memories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265337)

Since this shows that memories can be deleted, wouldn't the next possible step be adding memories?

Terrific! An amnesia drug... (-1, Flamebait)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265355)

I can see our government (U.S.) using this to simply wipe the memories of our enemies. They'll forget why they hate us and we can simply reprogram them the be our buddies. I mean, it's not like the current administration would consider that inhumane. They don't see anything else as inhumane...

Re:Terrific! An amnesia drug... (1)

hkgroove (791170) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265695)

If this will lead to a drug to help those who suffer from amnesia, that would be terrific.

Re:Terrific! An amnesia drug... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265733)

you sure as hell seem to need it yourself...

Re:Terrific! An amnesia drug... (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265735)

we've always been at war with ______.

_______ on the other hand, has always been our ally.

Re:Terrific! An amnesia drug... (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265921)

I realize this is indeed a bit of flamebait, but I would just like to point out wiping the memories of our enemies would have a very low return for the risk and difficulty. I would be more concerned about using it on citizens. Not that we need it, the media is quite effective at making us forget more than a few months ago. But imagine how difficult it would be to bring a lawsuit against the government for "detaining" people and "questioning" them when they don't remember any of it actually happening. Imagine how hard it would be to convict anyone of wrongdoing in the government by preventing people from being able to testify because they had their memory erased.

Even worse...What about people like Rumsfeld who actively ignore information to try and get away with saying he didn't know, now they can study, plan, and erase.

Re:Terrific! An amnesia drug... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265947)

They don't see anything else as inhumane...
That's not entirely accurate. Hoarding oil and selling it at market prices is clearly inhumane -- unless the entity that is making the profit is affiliated with the current administration.

So... (4, Interesting)

Alioth (221270) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265365)

So - more like DRAM (which not only needs to be kept powered, but also kept refreshed) than SRAM or ROM then.

I get the feeling that memory is a bit like a set of linked lists. If the head node in the list gets mislaid, then the memory might all still be there - but you can't get to it, at least not easily. I've noticed on many occasions I've tried to recall something - I know I know it, but I can't actually access the memory. Then several days later, the thing I was trying to recall will pop into my consciousness, a bit like a background "find / -name something" had been executing all along.

Funnily enough we were just discussing memory on IRC - how if we were playing a piece of classical music on the piano from memory, one bad note and all of a sudden you couldn't continue from where you were without going all the way back to the start, almost like losing the next node in the linked list.

DRAM ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265371)

So, we're wired with dynamic ram?

If true, then cryonics are effectively useless. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265379)

As if ice crystals smashing every cell to pulp weren't enough, now even if the damage could be repaired there would be no personality left after a cryonic resuscitation.

Re:If true, then cryonics are effectively useless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265731)

Didn't you ever watch SG1??? They went over this... you have to dump all the memories ahead of time then restore. Daniel Jackson had like 10 personalities in him because of this... OK I'm a real geek

Re:If true, then cryonics are effectively useless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20266259)

didn't think that anyone still believed in that tripe.

This science is a two edged sword. (2, Interesting)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265409)

I just read the article -- and am singularly unimpressed. They trained rats to avoid some tests, then inject drugs into the area where taste memory is stored, and poof, the taste aversion training seems to be kaput.

in rats...

I've got a simpler experiment. Try using a little ethyl alcohol on a brain circuit (you know, the stuff in beer, whiskey, etc.?) and if you get enough in the right place, no long term memory is formed because the brain is asleep. So a person wouldn't develop an aversion to something that happened while they were blacked out in terms of memory but still conscious otherwise.

But governmental experimenters can't force you to drink to destabilizwe your memories, and because -- to my knowledge most of our useful memories are stored in multiple areas of the brain and integrated by consciousness -- I'm not sure that the availability of a drug that can chemically destabilize memory is a good thing.

Prosecutor: What did you see?
Witness: I ....don't remember...

Get the picture?

Hello!! basic neuroanatomy 101: impulses are transmitted by electrochemical means and interpreted by electrochemical means, and presumably stored by changes brought about by electrochemical means. So if they flooded a little chunk of your brain with a neurococktail that fuzzed up the cellular chemistry that caused a change, it stands to reason that the change wouldn't remain stable.

Re:This science is a two edged sword. (3, Interesting)

OG (15008) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265693)

First off, you're comparing memory retention to memory formation, two very different processes. From a research point-of-view, their finding is quite significant (and IAANeuroscientist, with my area being electrophysiological studies of memory systems and how they are impaired by alcohol). Specifically, they've identified a protein that seems to be essential for the long-term maintenance of memories in cortex.

As a mentioned elsewhere, this finding probably won't help much therapeutically, as it is too far-reaching. What's really needed for treatment of memory-based pathologies is something that erases a memory (or prevents a memory from being restored) when it is accessed so that you can target specific memories, and there's evidence that it might be feasible.

Re:This science is a two edged sword. (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265729)

But alcohol doesn't remove your memories from a month ago.

Re:This science is a two edged sword. (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20266167)

But alcohol doesn't remove your memories from a month ago.
That's why you use that german ftl experiment to send a message back in time to your former self, "start drinking." Ah, you say, could you not send a message back to avoid the situation in the first place? Yes, but then you ruin a perfectly good opportunity for drinking heavily.

Re:This science is a two edged sword. (1)

teslar (706653) | more than 7 years ago | (#20266249)

Prosecutor: What did you see?
Witness: I ....don't remember...

Well, as a witness, would you prefer that or the alternative?
Prosecutor: I have no witnesses, your honor, they have all died from heart attacks and car crashes within the last 5 days. :)

Juggling (4, Insightful)

umbrellasd (876984) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265469)

So your memories are a function of how many molecules you can juggle. But you are more than your memories. Even if I couldn't remember things that happened to me beyond a day ago, I would still have opinions and feelings about situations that occur each day. I wouldn't have specific memories to tie to current events, but I would still avoid some situations and be drawn to others.

Which leads me to wonder, where that "you" is stored and if that storage is "permanent" or easily disrupted. Is my knowledge of mathematics a "memory"? What about my general disposition? Can someone make me drop the "Don't murder people" ball and disrupt my a moral imperatives? That one happens pretty often, actually.

There's no permanence. Just an ever-changing approximation of whatever you envision yourself to be.

Re:Juggling (1)

OG (15008) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265803)

The most famous research in this territory is the study of Phineas Gage. He had his prefrontal cortex removed due to a work injury--a dynamite tamper went straight through his skull. Everyone was amazed because he didn't even pass out and seemed to be fine. His memories were completely intact. It was considered a miracle.

What happened afterwards, though, was less then happy. He had been one of the most respected men in town, considered a good guy by everyone who knew him. Post-accident, he became a gambling, womanizer with an angry disposition. It's there that we started learning about the function of the prefrontal cortex. If there's any part of the brain that could be considered the seat of personality, that would be it. Look of executive functioning on wikipedia (it's not a bad starting article) for what prefrontal cortex seems to be involved in.

On the plus side... (2, Funny)

GBC (981160) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265491)

...if Slashdot's Editors work this one out, none of us will "remember" to tag stories as dupes.

Couple of Health thoughts from article (2, Insightful)

Fox_1 (128616) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265577)

Addiction and Memory - is it possible to forget and addiction? Like a hit of Heroin that you don't remember doing? or would your body still have a physiological need for the drug?

If memory is (as the article says):
In other words, long-term memory is not a one-time inscription on the nerve network, but an ongoing process which the brain must continuously fuel and maintain
Crazy idea, the memories I've trusted as being relatively permanent are actually only a few weeks old, or months, but much younger then the experiences they describe -at a molecular level. It's clear that we have limited conscious control over them, bad memories affect people in a number of documented ways. However ignoring the content the memories are just molecules that we can monkey with. My question is: How many other parts or functions in our body are not permanent but maintained with similar molecular functions - scar tissue? Health issues? Just as the body maintains memories, good or bad, does it maintain other things good or bad? Can the body forget to be sick? forget to be Crazy? Could we 'forget' cancer - (molecularly give the cues for the cells not to reproduce or be maintained) -and I know "cure for cancer" is crazy talk - however I love the idea of hacking the molecular mechanisms of the body in a way more clever then massive powersurges of cell destroying drugs and radiation.

Re:Couple of Health thoughts from article (1)

ZOMFF (1011277) | more than 7 years ago | (#20266053)

In regards to drug addiction: yes and no. Wiping the memory for physical dependency would have no effect; you've changed the bodies chemical / physical make up and now it requires said substance to function "normally". A lack of the drug for physical dependency causes intense withdrawal symptoms.

Psychological dependency may be cured via selective memory loss because the mind has become emotionally attached to the effects (of pleasure, pain relief, etc). A lack of the drug for psychological dependency simply triggers cravings. Forgetting about those effects would, in theory, cure that type of psychological dependency and prevent the cravings.

Voicover (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265579)

The subject at hand is a rat. One ordinary albino laboratory rat. The place is a cage. A typical cage in a typical lab just like you'd find in any university in any city. Just which cage and what rat isn't important or interesting. What is interesting is what this particular rat remembers... or rather, what he doesn't remember. Because right now, it seems this rat doesn't remember anything. He knows that he's a rat, but that is about all he knows. He also knows that if he's ever going to get out of this cage, he needs to find out just who he is and how he got there. What he doesn't know, and will soon find out, is that right now he is firmly located in one of the deeper regions of... the Twilight Zone.

Exit Strategy? (1)

psychicsword (1036852) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265593)

This could be an exit strategy for Iraq simply wipe the memories of all the Iraqis and poof no more terrorists! or for the paranoid Bush will wipe our memory of the Iraq War and start it over again

One way memory gets erased is by taking oath (1, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265615)

There is some anecdotal evidence that when people take the oath to tell the truth and nothing but the truth in front of Senate investigation committees, their memory gets instantly erased. Alberto Gonzales, Donald Rumsfeld, Casper Weinberger, George Schultz, Robert McNamara, ...

Re:One way memory gets erased is by taking oath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265797)

mod the parent post up....way up.

Rat-brained assumptions (2, Insightful)

E++99 (880734) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265641)

The underlying assumption that these effects have some significant correlation to long-term memory in humans is questionable. Rats are fantastic for testing physiological responses to drugs, as most the involved systems operate similarly. Low level CNS stuff, which may be involved here, is good too. But things touching on consciousness -- like conscious memory, as opposed to conditioned reactions, should not be assumed to have any correlation to experiments like these.

I'm sure they thought of this (2, Interesting)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265687)

but their logic doesn't show. It could be that the protein they administered just wiped out all memory of a certain type.

To test whether the memory needs regular update (their "little machine" metaphor), they need to show that their protein doesn't harm existing memories, which is the opposite of what their experiment showed.

What am I missing (besides the years 1981-2)?

Re:I'm sure they thought of this (1)

OG (15008) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265861)

They did that experiment (it's in the Science manuscript). The effect was non-specific when they tested for memory of two different tastes.

I think it works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265763)

I forgot my password.

Where do I sign up? (4, Funny)

phalse phace (454635) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265849)

I need someone to wipe out the images of goatse.cx and tub girl from my memory

*shivers*

anyone say: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20265877)

We can forget it for you wholesale (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265893)

I'm thinking back to an old New Yorker cartoon I saw. Two rich old men were wearing smoking jackets, sitting in overstuffed chairs in front of a roaring fire. Well-to-do, obviously. One of them has a smile on his face. The other old man scowls at him. "Farnswoth, you're reminiscing about my old loves again!"

At the end of your life, all you have are your memories. What you're proud of, what you regret, it's all in your mind. There was a Red Dwarf episode where Rimmer was feeling despondent about being such a miserable prat. Lister decided to make a birthday present of one of his old loves and had Holly load it into Rimmer's memory. Rimmer was quite smug about remembering how great it was and couldn't figure out how he let such a wonderful woman slip away. When Lister thought it over, he couldn't figure it out either. He'd thought of her as a former conquest, an old flame, but she was really worth more than that, and he just pissed her away like last night's beer.

The Egyptians took memory quite seriously. When someone was an especially naughty boy, his name was erased from history, removed from the monuments, present only in living memory. And once living memory died out, it would be as if he had never lived. The Soviets were also proficient at this sort of documentarial revisionism. Imagine if memories could be edited so easily. It's a scary thought! No longer is it just "We no longer speak of Joe," now it's a genuine question of "Who is Joe?"

I've had some recent traumatic memories erased... (1)

Peter Trepan (572016) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265945)

...and though it's a bit disorienting at first, I feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

I can't wait to get back to work on the Bush campaign and hopefully undo the terrible excesses of the Clinton administration, with its scandalous pardons, ATF thuggery, and Constitution-trampling Anti-Terrorist Omnibus Act.

Can you run it in reverse? (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265961)

Can you add more of these things, or speed them up to reinforce memories the way they did in the RGB Mars series?

Even better than that, instead of jamming it.... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 7 years ago | (#20265979)

...just down shift it for a moment and you can change your long term memories...

Know anyone with experience in doing so?

Don't remember the last article (1)

russasaurusRex (966807) | more than 7 years ago | (#20266101)

A few months back we discussed a similar removal of rat memories by a different method.
That's funny, I don't remember that article!

Wow, Star Wars fans will be lining up (4, Funny)

Jim in Buffalo (939861) | more than 7 years ago | (#20266115)

You'll have Star Wars fans lining up to have their memories of the prequel trilogy permanently expunged.

If memories are like processes (1)

zukinux (1094199) | more than 7 years ago | (#20266129)

and there are 3 process :
Process, his child, and his grand child
If the child process had been erased does it actually means that the brain cannot connect with the grand child and the grand process, although he got their PIDs? :)

Obligatory (1, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 7 years ago | (#20266137)

In Soviet Russia, memories erase you!

I discovered this years ago... (1)

chudnall (514856) | more than 7 years ago | (#20266193)

...but I forgot about it.

Not! (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 7 years ago | (#20266209)

People have been cooled during heart surgery to the point where there is no brain activity, and held there for quite long. If a human's memory was really dynamic, they'd wake up erased, but tests have shown that these people remember most everything and have about the same IQ as before the surgery.

Also, if your memory were dynamic, it would be more susceptible to things like electric shock.

Share A Flight, A Room, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20266269)


and then enjoy your lack of habeus corpus from the work of this CRIMINAL [whitehouse.org] .

I hope this helps the criminal indictments against The White House.

PatRIOTically As Always,
K. Trout
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