When Memories are Remembered, They Can Be Rewritten
Source (National Geographic)
**thread title is the tweet, OP headline is the actual article**
Some of us probably already knew this, but this is certainly fascinating and has so many implications both positive and negative.
For one, it shows how
testimony can be severely impacted and unreliable
. Also, what are the implications with polygraph tests? When something is implanted, imprinted
in the mind as a memory, even if false, it suddenly becomes real. As George Costanza says, "It's not a lie if you believe it." This suggests that it
become the truth because our mind believes it to be true.
I can attest: I know that I sometimes have doubts about things I recall, even though I know they're true/not true. I know I didn't do X but I
like i did X. It's creepy at times. How long, during subsequent re-memberings, does it take to hold as a new memory?
Every time we bring back an old memory, we run the risk of changing it. It’s more like opening a document on a computer – the old information
enters a surprisingly vulnerable state when it can be edited, overwritten, or even deleted. It takes a while for the memory to become strengthened
anew, through a process called reconsolidation. Memories aren’t just written once, but every time we remember them.
The article given an example of having test subjects watch the pilot episode of 24
. Chan and LaPaglia of Iowa State
fed their volunteers
with false information immediately after they had actively remembered what they had seen. Then, and only then, did the new memories overwrite their
Twenty minutes later [after watching the pilot and either taking a quiz or playing Tetris], they listened to a short audio recording that
supposedly recapped the episode, but that secretly changed some details—for example, swapping Mandy’s syringe for a stun gun. Five minutes later,
everyone took a final true-or-false test about what they had originally seen.
taking the quiz destabilised the volunteers’ memories of what they were quizzed on, paving the way for the false recap to mess with their knowledge.
This worked even when volunteers correctly remembered what happened in the episode during the first quiz—the incorrect audio still changed what they
thought they knew.
Chan and LaPaglia have now used the reconsolidation window to change declarative memories—facts and knowledge that we consciously recall.
Now, how long before this is used for sinister means? For some of the more conspiracy-minded folks, who needs MKUltra when you can take a completely
innocent person and insert/change/rewrite a new memory of an event, such as a party to an assassination? In what ways will the military experiment
with this (which they probably already have)?
A positive outcome of this, however, concerns very negative memories, such as those experiences and memories involved with PTSD. IF these new
memories can be re-written of sorts to lessen the negative impact, this *could* be a positive thing—to a degree. To what degree, though?
Also reminds me of Total Recall (Schwarzenegger NOT Farrell!
Our memories are one thing that makes us human. Having had discussions in the past about changing memories—even for tragedies—the ethical
implications are staggering.
edit on 23-5-2013 by Liquesence because: (no reason given)