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 ")

Sense.ly Virtual Nurse Will See You Soon
The virtual nurse is IN.

AliveCor App Detects Heart Arrhythmias, Has FDA Approval
Works on humans and puppeteers.

Artificial Wombs - Ectogenesis Technology - Is On The Way
'Magnificent, aren't they? (Lama Su, in Star Wars II)

Bionic Hand Provides 'Lifelike' Sensations, Like Luke Skywalker's
A fictional scene becomes reality in just thirty-five years.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

New Video Of Arducorder Mini Open Source Science Tricorder
Perfect for exploring our planet.

E-Delicious Machine A Food-Tasting Robot
'Why the nuisance of bringing food to the mouth to taste?'

Nexus 6 Phone Vs. Nexus-6 Android Comparison
It has 'ten million possible combinations of cerebral activity'. Now, that would be a smart phone.

Robot Handwriting Via App Better Than Yours
Don't get caught with fake handwriting.

MIT's Latest Biosuit For Fashionable Astronauts
'You'd need a space suit to make any kind of a successful trip outdoors.'

Diamond Nanothreads For Space Elevators?
'Continuous pseudo-one dimensional diamond crystal.'

3D Printing With Moon Regolith Simulant (Moon Dust)
Don't forget, it costs about 5k dollars to lift one pound up from Earth.

Liquid Metal Technology Now Exists
'A mimetic poly-alloy.'

Sense.ly Virtual Nurse Will See You Soon
The virtual nurse is IN.

China's Crab Walker Robot Tank In Firing Mode
'The mechanism was to consist of eighteen segments, each equiped with a pair of legs...'

'Hello, Computer!' Intel's Core M Catches Up To Scotty
'Well, isn't that quaint!'

Visual Speech Recognition - When Will HAL Read Lips For Real?
Automating lip reading.

MIT's Robotic Cheetah Runs Free - And Frolics In The Grass
'THEY sent A SLAMHOUND on Turner's trail...'

Flying Robot Has An Arm
Drones with arms.

Strati 3D Printed Car
'You rode in it - you know how good it is.'

Tracking Spinning Space Junk
'Loose nuts and bolts... had been accumulating in Earth orbit'

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.