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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

what false memories would you want to have implanted in your brain?


It’s like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in reverse. From CNN:

Imagine you’re a mouse, and you’re freaking out right now because a researcher is putting you into a chamber. You distinctly remember feeling shocks to your tiny feet in that chamber.

What you don’t know — cue the creepy music — is that scientists have manipulated your memory by tinkering with your brain cells, giving you a false version of your own past. The truth is that, in this particular chamber, you were never actually shocked.

This sounds like a horror film, but it actually happened in a laboratory setting. And the research being done there could have implications for understanding memory in humans.

Scientists say they have, for the first time, generated a false memory in an animal by manipulating brain cells that encode that information.

More at MIT News, if you want a more scientific explanation of the study.

So here’s the question:

What false memories would you want to have implanted in your brain?

Imagine you couldn’t tell the difference between an implanted memory and a real one. You could “remember” doing something dangerous and exhilarating, like sky-diving or climbing Mount Everest, without incurring any of the danger. Or maybe implanted memories could be a confidence booster for, say, people with social anxieties: if you “remembered” doing something you were afraid of (but that isn’t actually physically dangerous), such as walking into a party full of people you didn’t know and having a good time, perhaps that would help you do similar things for real.

What do you think? And would you be leery of all of your memories if you knew it was possible that some of them weren’t real?

(If you have a suggestion for a Question, feel free to email me.)

  • bronxbee

    as sad and disturbing as some of my memories may be… they’re *mine* and i want them all. i would definitely would be one of the ones who were suspicious of all memories if i knew even one was false.

  • Jess Haskins

    Ever seen a movie about memory manipulation that DIDN’T have a twist?

  • GeeksAreMyPeeps

    If there wasn’t a twist, there would be no movie.

  • GeeksAreMyPeeps

    There are some things, such as walking on the moon, that I would love to do, and that humans have accomplished, that I will probably never get the opportunity to do. Having a memory of something like that, that one would know is a fake memory but seems real, I could get behind.

    I could see how this might replace a prohibitively expensive vacation for some people,

  • amanohyo

    Hmm… depending on your taste and tolerance for terrible scifi, it might be the perfect time for you two geeks to grab a bottle of wine and watch Overdrawn at the Memory Bank (MST3K version preferably). The only twist is that it is both horrible and hilarious. Many people assume (understandably) that Bison in Street FIghter is Raul Julia’s most embarrassing role, but Fingal gives Bison a run for his money any day of the week (except Tuesday of course).

  • Jess Haskins

    You mean my favorite MST3k ever?

    Hmm…could be time for a rewatch!

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    “Secret agent” might be nice…

    (I can’t believe no one has said this yet.)

  • amanohyo

    Oops… of course a game designer posting on a film site would be well versed in MST3K lore. Should have seen that one coming.
    How about The Lathe of Heaven (1980) – a movie made almost entirely of twists where the twist at the end is that there finally isn’t another twist (would that be a “straighten”)?

  • RogerBW

    The memory of having spent years learning to do something, Groundhog Day-style. Playing the guitar, perhaps.

  • Lydia

    That’s what I would want, too – especially now, as I’m trying to brush up on computer skills to get a job. But I would want to be able to tell regular memories from implanted ones – too creepy otherwise.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I wouldn’t want any false memories implanted in my brain.

  • Chris

    The memory of being deeply dedicated to working out, eating well, and not sitting around on my ass all the time

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