Nicholas West AP
The race to decode the brain continues. A wild array of new possibilities are opening in the field of mind control. The mind control of the future forgoes all pretense at indirectly altering perception through media and politics, or even mind-altering drugs and environmental toxins. The mind control of the future goes straight into direct programming.
This direct programming could take place in a number of ways, from gadgets that create a brain-computer interface, to magnetic manipulation via “neural dust,” to the direct uploading of the contents of our brain and the subsequent hacking of our minds in the digital realm.
Memory research is a key component of this as well. Our memories help us form our identity: who we are relative to where we have been. Positive or negative lessons from the past can be integrated into our present decisions, thus enabling us to form sound strategies and behaviors that can aid us in our quest for personal evolution. But what if we never knew what memories were real or false? What if our entire narrative was changed by having our life’s events restructured?
The military already has openly discussed a desire to erase the memories of soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is seen as a viable solution, rather than investigate and ameliorate the horrific events which have put soldiers into stressful situations to begin with. Multi-tour soldiers are more suicidal than ever before, and military researchers would like to rewire their brains, as opposed to rework our current understanding of war and peace.
Damn the ethics; science continues full throttle, largely at the behest of military ideology and funding. The proverbial canary in the coal mine has transformed into a mouse in a laboratory. Apparently, until humanoid robots can be released full force, they need to create the best human facsimile possible.
Once again MIT is in the picture.
In a supposed attempt to understand why people can have memories of things that never happened, or divergent reports of the same documented event, the upshot of recent experiments with mice is that it is in fact possible to implant false memories of events that never have happened. Beyond that, researchers can implant fear:
The researchers place a mouse in a brand new environment. As the mouse explores this environment (Place A), new memories are created in the hippocampus (the region of the mammalian brain that we know is deeply involved with memory formation). In Place A, the mouse has the time of its life. The mouse is then relocated to a different environment (Place B). While in Place B, the neuroscientists stimulate the memory of Place A using optogenetics . . . while simultaneously delivering electric shocks to the mouse’s feet, causing fear and pain. Then, when the mouse is returned to Place A, it freezes in fear. This is because the mouse’s brain has somehow confused the fear of electric shocks in Place B with its memory of Place A — in other words, a false memory has been created.
What you have just read is a form of trauma-based mind control.
Of additional note is that scientists employed a virus to change “the neuron’s DNA so that they produce a protein switch that is sensitive to light. Then, when these neurons are struck by light (a hole is drilled in the mouse’s skull and a laser is shot into that region of the hippocampus), the memory is turned on.”
A literal on/off switch to produce fear.
This is part of the grand future of neuroscience, which is receiving funding from the $100 million BRAIN project in the U.S., and another $1.3 billion committed by Europe. We are already seeing some very unethical applications.
We would do well to weigh the positives and negatives while we still have the capacity to freely form and communicate our own thoughts; because the next step is on the horizon . . . and it looks rather grim for anyone who values human emotion:
The next step, of course, is to actually do something with these findings. The research group would like to use its memory manipulation technology to fix/treat undesirable brain function, such as anxiety and depression. Being able to delete or reprogram bad memories, a la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, would probably make short work of many mental woes. Perhaps more excitingly, though, is the potential to directly encode new memories into our neurons — kind of like when Neo learns to fly a helicopter in The Matrix. That’s probably a few years away yet, though.
MIT Research Paper: “Creating a False Memory in the Hippocampus”: DOI: 10.1126/science.1239073 –