While we here at Marbles are constantly trying to find ways to help you improve your memory, there are some things you would rather forget. For those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the situation is much more severe. That is why scientists have sought to erase memories, in addition to enhancing them. Recently, researchers at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center identified a substance in the brain that, if blocked, allowed them to “erase” learned information. Thus the drugs being developed to affect this substance have both great promise and potentially terrible consequences, such as accidentally erasing other memories or creating additional false memories. While the drugs have only been tested in animals thus far, ethical questions are already being raised over potential abuses.
For further reading, the following New York Times article provides insight into these new drugs and a look at the evolution of the study of the brain leading to increased attention on the mind today (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/06/health/research/06brain.html). Wired’s blog also provides a great look into the debate via an interview with neuroscientist Anders Sandberg (http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/04/memoryedit.html).
At the same time, if this substance is enhanced, it could help ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s. This research is also a part of strides being made towards understanding the many, complicated connections involved in memory. For example, research into how the brain remembers single events has indicated that one experience has the potential to create a memory as vivid as those of repeated activities (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090318140526.htm).
For a lighter look at the subject, Marbles recommends the following Top 5 Memorable Movies about Memory:
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
3. Away From Her
4. The Bourne Identity
5. The Notebook
(Don’t agree with these selections? Let us know what you would recommend!)
Another interesting look at memory comes from: Can’t Remember What I Forgot: The Good News From the Front Lines of Memory Research. Author Sue Halpern discusses the science behind memory and evaluates strategies for warding off Alzheimer’s and dementia.