Scientists Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu explore the idea of altering and controlling memories in this memory talk. Ramirez says he first thought about this after going through a rough break up. He badly wanted to erase the memories of his ex that were haunting him. He and Liu have been doing research with mice on memory manipulation, and the pair have found some interesting results.
Liu explains that memories leave a kind of footprint in the brain. When someone is thinking about a specific memory, a brain cell kind of lights up. Knowing that, Ramirez and Liu set up a test where they would set mice in a box, and give them one small shock, creating a fear memory. Afterwards, while monitoring brain activity, they would use light (lasers) to pin point that memory in the brain. When the light hit the brain cell where the fear memory was located, the mouse would freeze up as if it were afraid.
Liu and Ramirez also discuss the possibility of planting false memories into someone's brain. They believe this is something that can be done, though any human testing is years and years away. At the end of the talk, these innovative scientists open the floor for discussion on whether or not memories should be manipulated, as it’s a controversial issue.
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Steve Ramirez Keynotes
Steve Ramirez is a graduate student from MIT who studied Brain and Cognitive Sciences and has been...