06 August 2013

Terrifying Tuesday: Implanted Memories Edition

So scientists at MIT have found a way to implant false memories.   In mice specifically, and the memories are memories of pain--probably because pain is the easiest to observe, but also probably because the scientists at MIT are mad scientists that electrocute everything in sight.

So, to incept something, you inject a protein called channelrhodopsin-2 (which I think is the channel on my TV that the miniature train show is always on) and then use a fiber-optic cable to trigger cellular activity.  At the same time you trigger pain activity on the mouse's feet.  The scientists were then able to trick the mice into believing that the pain had happened in one box and not another--even when the mouse was put in a variety of different boxes, his false memory of the first held true. 

To me, what's exciting about this is that science fiction has predicted the ability to implant false memories for quite some time.  Philip K. Dick's "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" (also known as the short story that became that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie which then became that Colin Farrell movie) is an early example, but there's also Inception, Dark City, Vanilla Sky, and our own Angie Smibert's Memento the invisibility cloak, false memories are an idea canvassed by fiction decades before the reality.  

If you can dream it, you can build it (or electrocute it.)

1 comment:

  1. So very creepy. Science is catching up science-fiction faster and faster.