“Brain editing” on horizon

Experimental drug seems to weaken some memories


Imagine being able to erase a traumatic memory, cure an addiction, or treat dementia and other memory problems, all with a simple drug. It may one day be possible to do just that, the New York Times reports: U.S. researchers are working on an experimental drug that, when delivered to specific areas of the brain, blocks a substance that helps retain learned information—a so-called “memory molecule” that helps neurons communicate with each other, thus forming memories. The creation of a “memory blocking drug” raises huge ethical questions, as scientists note it could be used to block memories of bad behaviours, ending feelings of guilt that form the basis of a moral conscience. They also worry it might actually make drug use more widespread, as addiction would be easier to treat. Even so, the drug holds enormous possibilities.  The research has only been done in animals so far, but the team expects it to work similarly in humans.

New York Times

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“Brain editing” on horizon

  1. This has possibilities –

  2. This reminds me of Greg Bear’s 1997 Slant, a science fiction novel which foretells of a future in which people become so immersed in the electronic information age that civilization reaches a crisis point. I wrote about in response to another scientific advancement (?), of treating depression with brain pacemakers.

    In Bear’s future world, Inhabitants are unaware that a crisis is unfolding, since it involves the very technology which keeps them submissive to the erosion of their surroundings. Most experiences with other humans are achieved not in person but electronically, by jacking oneself into the ‘net. Even sex is not immune.

    The technology which keeps people in this future world content and accepting the status quo is “therapy” involving surgical adjustments to the brain. These procedures have become the norm, such that the “non-therapied” are considered the lunatics – the oddballs, malcontents, marginalized – and “normals” are as rare as the dodo. In some cases, the therapy amounts to the ultimate, permanent happy pill: no condition can make the therapied unhappy, even jailing.

    Taking drugs to achieve the same thing I see as essentially no different. It’s more than ethical issues about individuals taking responsibility for their own actions that concerns me. I’d be more concerned about the potential for people in power, in collusion with the psychiatric industry which already wields its own power, to drug the plebes into accepting what they otherwise wouldn’t.

    In that sphere, consumerism has been the most recent drug of choice, promoted by the haves to the – largely – have-nots.

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