We have always wished for the ability to delete memories from our minds the way we delete pictures from our phones or tear up all the stuff that remind us of things we would rather forget – pleasant or unpleasant.
And now scientists say they have figured out a way to do just that. And more.
You can now delete memories from your brain while also making up new memories of events that never occurred or ones that you weren’t a part of at all.
It may sound like science fiction but its true! A documentary released in the US this week revealed what scientists had figured out.
PBS NOVA’s documentary strand includes “Memory Hackers” which looks at new research into the nature of memory and how it can be manipulated for the benefit of humankind.
The film’s makers also say that “for much of human history, memory has been seen as a tape recorder that faithfully registers information and replays it intact.”
However, researchers have recently discovered that memory is much more impressionable than previously thought – it is constantly being “written and rewritten” by ourselves and those around us. The scientists working on this are on the brink of discovering the exact mechanisms that will be able to explain and control human memories.
One of the subject’s of the documentary is Jake Hausler, a boy from St. Louis now 12 years old but who can remember every detail of almost everything that has happened to him since the age of eight.
This boy is also the youngest person ever to be diagnosed with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, making it very difficult for him to differentiate between important and trivial incidents from his past.
André Fenton, a prominent neuroscientist working on a method to erase painful memories from the human mind, says that to forget is quite possibly one of the most important functions of a brain and that currently neuroscientists working on this understand only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to human memory.”
Other members of the team also include Julia Shaw, a psychology professor a London South Bank University. Her experiment has potentially troubling consequences for the justice and security departments of nations all over the world since she managed to convince her subjects of crimes they never committed and actually even implanted memories of those crimes in their brains.
Merel Kindt, a clinical psychologist, was also spoken to when making the film. She has discovered medication that can be used to help remove the negative association that people have with certain memories. She claims she used this to “cure” patients of phobias such as arachnophobia.