Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Memory-Erasing Drugs

Memory-erasing drugs would be possible if forgetting were not a passive process, as it often seems to be. However, according to Yi Zhong, a neurogeneticist at Tsinghua University in Beijing and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, there is "an active system to erase memory, completely independent from the mechanisms to form memories."


(Drosophila remembering: "it's on the tip of my labellum")

Zhong and his colleagues made their discovery by training fruit flies with two odors, one of which was paired with a foot shock to the insects as they smelled it. That experience normally leads flies to avoid the shocking odor in favor of the alternative.

In the first set of experiments, the researchers left the flies alone after their training session was over, later testing them at specific points in time as their memory weakened. In a second experiment, the researchers disrupted the odor-shock memories by exposing flies to a new pair of odors. Finally, they reversed the flies' lesson, delivering the foot shock in conjunction with the opposite odor.

In all cases, the flies forgot what they learned previously, which the researchers suspect was due to a small protein known as Rac that switched on with the passage of time. This molecule switched on faster when the insects either got distracted by new experiences or confused by conflicting information.

Philip K. Dick made excellent use of this idea. In his 1966 short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale he writes about selectively erasing memories:

Someone, probably at a government military-sciences lab, erased his conscious memories; all he knew was that going to Mars meant something special to him, and so did being a secret agent...
(Read more about erasing memories)

Even earlier, Jack Vance wrote about the idea of "extirpating memory" in his 1956 novel To Live Forever:

"Here it is anti-heptant. Water-soluble, non-toxic, highly effective. When it is present in the cerebral blood supply, it acts like the eraser button of a recorder, canceling whatever circuits are active, but inactive toward those not in use."
(Read more about anti-heptant)

Researchers have also developed a technique that Detects False Memories; or, have better memories than you actually have in Hack Your Own Reality - The Virtual Way. Read more details about Zhong's research in Livescience; thanks to reader wormcast for the story tip and references.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/20/2010)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 4 )

Related News Stories - (" Medical ")

I Didn't Know You Can Already Buy Flesh Putty
'I filled your bullet hole with flesh putty and the lattice.'

Paradromics Implant FDA 'Breakthrough Device'
'I used my implant to tell MILLIE what we wanted...' - Pournelle and Niven, 1981.

Mice, At Least, Can Sober Up Quickly
'Then draw some aldodote-vitamin pills from the medic.' - H. Beam Piper, 1962.

Real-Life Mind-Reading With MRI
'So you see, you can hide nothing from me. I am about to know you better than anyone has ever known you.' - Daniel Suarez, 2009.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

I Didn't Know You Can Already Buy Flesh Putty
'I filled your bullet hole with flesh putty and the lattice.'

'A Sign in Space' Gives Practice In Decoding ET Messages
'... it will be easy to form an alphabet which shall enable us to converse with the inhabitants of the moon.'

Melting Permafrost Endangers Infrastructure
'From the tower's huge octagonal base radiate wide silvery strips...'

EELS Exobiology Extant Life Surveyor For Enceladus
'It was about five feet long... a black bullet head and red camera eyes.'

Lazy Lawyer's Trust In ChatGPT Misplaced
'The Law Society has strict rules on the use of pseudo-intelligent software...'

Paradromics Implant FDA 'Breakthrough Device'
'I used my implant to tell MILLIE what we wanted...'

Mice, At Least, Can Sober Up Quickly
'Then draw some aldodote-vitamin pills from the medic.'

Is It Time For Lunar Farside Telescopes?
'Mount Ambarzumian Observatory, on Farside.'

Spaceflight Vertigo Solved By NASA Releasing The Kraken
"I threw up in my helmet."

TM-62 Loitering Ground Landmine
Runaway movie comes to life!

Helpful Robots In Science Fiction
'If you douse me again... I'm donating you to a city college.'

Lunar Pogo Stick - Retro Technovelgy From 1968
'Lucky touched the leap knob...'

MIT And Rice Create Blade Runner Photo Analysis
Rick Deckard, your photo analysis is ready.

SayCan with PaLM - Google's Robot Helper
The older I get, the more interested I am in helpful robots.

Real-Life Mind-Reading With MRI
'So you see, you can hide nothing from me. I am about to know you better than anyone has ever known you.'

Whisper Aero Ultraquiet Electric Aviation
'A white electric plane approached at great speed...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.