Home > Uncategorized > Take the red pill or I’ll cut you!

Take the red pill or I’ll cut you!

Scientist  Joe Z. Tsien, Ph.D., has been experimenting on mice to see if he can erase selective memories from their minds.

Basics of the experiment:

  • Shock the mice when it hears a certain tone
  • Give the mouse a dose of CaMKII (calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II)
  • See if said mouse recoils in fear when it hears the tone again.
  • Mouse forgets being shocked when hearing tone.
  • Pat self on back and pull out the evil scientist chair you ordered from overstock.com.

In a paper that is published in the latest issue of Neuron Magazine, Tsien claims that selective memory was not only “temporarily blocked by the enzyme, but erased”.

One of the potential beneficial examples of this drugs, according to Tsien, is that “given the fact that so many war veterans often suffer from reoccurring traumatic memory replays after returning home, our report of selective erasure of fear memories in an inducible and rapid way suggests the existence of molecular paradigm(s) under which traumatic memories can be erased or degraded while preserving other memories in the brain.”

Or…remember that bitch girlfriend that cheated on you and stole all your stuff?  You could forget she was even there and if you run into her at a bar you could potentially do it all over again.  Ah, love.

Or remember when the country went to war for all the wrong reason.  A heavy dose of CaMKII could make all that unpleasantness go away if dropped in the water supply.

There are obviously some potential benefits for those who don’t want to hold on to traumatic memories but my argument is memory=identity and once memory is gone what defines your identity.  The bad memories are bad for a reason even in extreme cases.

Maybe I’ve read and watched way too much science fiction but the idea of being able to purposely remove very specific memories from my mind seems like a really bad idea.  I know that, scientifically speaking, the reason mice are used in experiments is that we share a lot of our biological make up despite the obvious differences in appearance.  But how far exactly did Dr. Tsien interrogate said mouse to find out if he or she lost just the one memory?  Did he ask it?  Is there really a way to know which memory was lost?  Maybe the mouse forgot it was a mouse and thought who the F!&$ is this asian guy and why is he poking me (not in the facebook sense)?

Going all the way back to the paleolithic age the human brain is still a huge frackin’ mystery in 2008 and I for one am not convince this Dr Tsien has got even this very small component figure out.  I think if he did I would be even more terrified of the prospects of successfully deleting memories.

Fore some interesting findings on memory listen to the WNYC radio lab episode Memory and Forgetting

Also just listen to radiolab in general because I’m in love with it and once gay marraige is legal everywhere I’m starting a petition for human-radio show marriage.  Anyone intersted in organizing the rally?

  1. October 29, 2008 at 5:04 PM

    Eternal Sunshine is possible

  2. ren
    November 7, 2008 at 11:25 AM

    yay i’m glad i won in the poll.

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