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Can neuroscience really erase memories? Sort of, but …


In “Five Big Developments in Neuroscience to Watch” (Forbes, 6/17/2011), David DiSalvo writes,

Neuroscience is in many ways a discipline still in its infancy, making it ripe for claims that veer closer to science fiction than science. In this post I’ve taken a cut at describing five real-deal developments in neuroscience that are going to heat up in the years to come, along with implications pro and con.

Say on.

1. Boosting Thought Control with Real-time Brain Feedback

Research conducted this year shows that people control their thoughts more effectively when they can see how their brain reacts.

3. Erasing Targeted Memories

We’ve heard about memory manipulation for ages, but in the last couple of years it has made the transition from theory to practice. A handful of credible studies have shown that memory can indeed be erased using procedures that involve removal or manipulation of specific proteins in the brain. Down the road, it’s possible that we’ll be able to target specific memories for erasure.

In very recent research, Israeli scientists showed that they can erase memories linked to drug addiction, thereby removing one of the most confounding factors in addiction treatment. That study speaks to the upside of memory erasure, along with the benefits of erasing traumatic memories. But targeted memory erasure begs a slew of ethical questions, not the least of which is whether we’re ready to accept the consequences of neutralizing part of what makes us human.

Caution is well advised here, for other reasons as well. It would be wise to see what percentage of the study subjects becomes addicted to the same substance or another during the following decade. Memories are certainly a confounding factor, but many such factors exist, including a personal tendency to get addicted.


Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

Okay, a shop ticket has been made out for this, and it's in the bin. News
"MI is perfectly correct."
This occurs on profoundly rare occasions -- so rare in fact that one could consider it a "miracle." xp material.infantacy
MI is perfectly correct. When making a comment, a "Reply" button apears inside the Preview pane. People typically read the Preview pane immediately prior to posting. They read, they click, and their post goes on a hayride. I'm tempted to do it right now. Upright BiPed
News, when replying to a comment, the comment preview contains a "reply" button which is inappropriate to the context. According to Biped, it causes the reply to be posted to the wrong article (I'm guessing the most recent one, rather than at random). This is likely the most frequent cause of complaints (I've seen several) regarding comments being posted to the wrong article. If Jack Cole is addressing these issues, he will likely understand what's being explained. material.infantacy
Upright Biped: Could you assist the news team by explaining the nature of the problem? That makes it easier to assist the Web master in addressing it. True, there have been a number of problems recently; we had to switched to a bigger server, due to repeated outages, and we distributed the computing. All kinds of strange stuff has happened since then, including stuff we complain about in the back office. Giving us specifics helps. Thanks in advance. News
Please remove the "Reply" button from the editing box. It's attached to a roulette wheel. Upright BiPed
What the ???? Mods you HAVE to get this fixed. Good luck Upright BiPed
Hi Kairos, Think of it this way. A person educated to the evidence in place of the rhetoric, already understands that (this very instant) there are threads in every direction that blow up every one-liner you're having to deal to. I am talking about being surrounded in answers, and being oblivious to it at the same time. It's like that bug on the Savanah who makes it all the way through the digestional tract and ends up back on the ground, standing in what he started with. Upright BiPed

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