Tell us your fantasy. We will make it real.
“Ever heard of Rekall? They sell those fake memories.”
“ “Rekall, Rekall, Rekall.” You thinking of going there?”
“I don’t know, maybe.”
“ Well, don’t. A friend of mine tried one their “special offers,” nearly got himself lobotomized.”
“Don’t f#ck with your brain, pal. It ain’t worth it.”
“I guess not.”
Total Recall – 1990
Just a quote form Arnold Schwarzengger’s Total Recall right? Well it’s looking more and more like becoming Science Fact rather then Science Fiction. It has been announced this week in Science that scientists have been able to implant false memories into mice.
Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have confirmed that they have managed to make mice in an congenial environment believe that they are actually in a must more disagreeable one, by transferring memories of unpleasant memories so that they associate their surrounding with those bad experiences. In a process known as optogenetics, the scientists use optic fibers to deliver pulses of light directly into areas of the brain where the neurons respond and alter the memory.
Using this technique a mouse was placed in the benign environment and the braincells encoding memory were labelled. These cells were then made responsive to the pulses of light. The mouse was then moved to a more unpleasant environment and the light was delivered to the brain to activate the labeled cells, this was done while mild shocks were delivered to the mouse. The mouse was then placed back into its previous and more friendly environment; however, upon return the mouse showed signs of fear, indicating that it was recalling false memories of being mildly shock in this environment, the environment that has never offered any threat.
The reason for this research was nothing to do with torturing mice but to further understand human memory and the rather unreliable nature of our minds. Given that we will often make mistakes or forget information when recalling an event, this research could lead to memories being recalled in full technicolor™.
So this is a long way from delivering the promises of Rekall, but it is certainly the right direction with a number of possible uses. With workplace and modern life increasing the publics’ stress or soldiers and people involved in horrendous incidents we could see the elimination of PTSD. Then of course there is that dream holiday you’ve always wanted or skills you’ve always wanted to learn but never had time or the understanding.
Ultimately this can lead to films such as Total Recall, Johnny Mnemonic and The Matrix becoming reality. We are either on the cusp of a more relaxed world or the beginning of a post apocalyptic cyberpunk future. All I know is that Keanu Reeves may have seen this coming, it would certainly explain a lot.