Breakthrough in implanting false memories

Scientists have successfully implanted false memories into mice.  The researches are excited at prospect of applying the same processes to human beings, which they say holds promise for treating emotional problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder.  Read about the experiment after the jump, and then I want to pose some questions.

From Meeri Kim,  MIT scientists implant a false memory into a mouse’s brain – The Washington Post:

Scientists have successfully implanted a false memory into a mouse’s brain — a seemingly far-fetched idea reminiscent of a science fiction film.

“If mice had Hollywood, this would be ‘Inception’ for them,” said one of the lead researchers, MIT neuroscientist Steve Ramirez, whose study was published online Thursday in the journal Science.

Ramirez and his colleagues tagged brain cells associated with a specific memory and then tweaked that memory to make the mouse believe something had happened when it hadn’t.

Although implanting a memory won’t happen anytime soon in people, in principle, it should be possible to isolate a human memory and activate it at will, scientists said.

“We would have every reason to expect this would happen in humans exactly as it happened in mice,” said Michael J. Kahana, who was not involved in the study but is director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Computational Memory Lab.

Researchers said the ability to implant a false memory was a scientific milestone; Kahana called it a “technical tour de force.” The study’s authors said this type of research could one day help treat some emotional problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, which involves the intrusion of unwanted memories.

The article goes on to give details of how the experiment was carried out.

First of all, notice that we hear about the alleged benefits of the procedure in humans–such as treating post-traumatic stress syndrome, presumably by replacing the bad memory with a nice memory of something that really didn’t happen–but the article says nothing about any bad or dangerous or even problematic applications.  The contemporary mindset portrays all scientific and technological developments as good, with no questions asks.

Further, notice again how postmodernists are just unconcerned with truth.  If a memory is unpleasant, replace it with a more pleasant one, whether or not we are recalling something that actually happened.

Say we could replace bad memories with false but good ones.  Would you be in favor of that?  What would be the human cost?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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