This New York Times article by Benedict Carey is reporting on a fascinating discovery in the field of neuroscience: a specific molecule that appears to control the way memory is formed in the brain. This is huge, especially since it appears that researchers have already been conducting research with a drug that can inhibit this molecule, effectively limiting the formation or retention of a particular memory. The article talks about some practical uses for the drug, but I’m not clear on how researchers would go about targeting specific memories to block or erase.
Obviously, there are a ton of ethical and practical concerns related to this, and the article hints at them effectively enough without going into a terrible amount of detail. I won’t dive into them yet either, it’s far too big an issue to address in a bookmark, but it is something we should all be discussing.
One other point I found quite interesting is that Carey makes the statement:
Artists and writers have led the exploration of identity, consciousness and memory for centuries. Yet even as scientists sent men to the moon and spacecraft to Saturn and submarines to the ocean floor, the instrument responsible for such feats, the human mind, remained almost entirely dark, a vast and mostly uncharted universe as mysterious as the New World was to explorers of the past.
There’s some judgement implied here, but I find the assignment of roles fascinating. Once again, that’s for a longer post. Sorry to be a tease, but the gears are turning and attempting to yank my thoughts from them prematurely will almost certainly result in broken fingers.