Technology of Memories: The Potential for a “Spotless Mind” Really Exists

Technology of Memories: The Potential for a "Spotless Mind" Really Exists

The science behind how our brain makes and retains memories is pretty fascinating by itself. What is becoming more interesting is that as technology progresses and we learn more about the brain, scientists are figuring out how to delete memories and even make new ones from scratch.

Imagine if you could go back and remove every bad memory you’ve ever had. Yes, I know that is the premise of the movie that inspired the title of this article, but it is actually becoming a reality.

You see, according to neuroscientist Andre Fenton, “Forgetting is probably one of the most important things that brains will do.” There is a wide range of therapeutic applications that could be developed from the ability to delete bad memories. Imagine the impact that erasing bad memories could have for trauma victims or people suffering from PTSD.

Then again, isn’t our memory just a collection of experiences that makes us who we are? What are the moral ramifications of going into someone’s head and picking and choosing what it is that they remember? Experience is an important teacher.

In a new documentary series called “Memory Hackers” on the PBS affiliate Nova, these questions and more are raised. According to the creators of the show, “For much of human history, memory has been seen as a tape recorder that faithfully registers information and replays it intact.

But now, researchers are discovering that memory is far more malleable, always being written and rewritten, not just by us but by others. We are discovering the precise mechanisms that can explain and even control our memories.”

The film includes interviews with world-renowned neurologists and psychologists, and examples of how memories can be created, deleted, and maintained. It’s a really fascinating show if you’re interested in the intricacies of the human mind. Check out the intro for the series below, and look out for it on Nova.


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