Can we erase unwanted memories as in the eternal sunshine of a clean mind?

Can we erase unwanted memories as in the eternal sunshine of a clean mind?

Jim Carrey forgets his ex-wife in The Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

when?

A device that can erase individual memories.

Where did you see?

in the movie Eternal sunshine for a clean mind (2004) Having Clementine and Joel erase all memories of each other in Memory Erasing Company.

How close are we?

Heartbreak is not only the source of countless songs, poems and stories, but according to Eternal sunshine for a clean mind Also a great reason to get rooted in your mind and toss those painful memories of your ex into the trash.

If this happened in real life, that’s for sure: it wouldn’t be like the movie. There, the therapist sees parts of the brain light up behind a computer screen while Joel thinks of Clementine, after which he deletes the memories there one by one. Just… that’s nonsense. For example, you are processing what you saw in a different brain area than the emotions you felt while doing so. So you can forget about the specific bright areas of the brain. Memories do not live in one place.

However, there are scientists who hope to be able to identify the total brain pattern of traumatic memories with artificial intelligence, in the process they – in a term that fits a science fiction movie – They deliberately ‘decode neurofeedback’

The question is whether this is necessary at all. Because even without knowing the exact pattern, you can adjust the memory. The best known example is EMDR (Sensitive eye movement and reprocessing† This eye movement therapy aims to overload working memory while the patient recalls a painful memory. By following a therapist’s rapid hand motions by eye, working memory overflows and bad memory becomes more fuzzy and less emotionally charged, or so the theory goes.

Despite the apparent high level of deception, EMDR has been scientifically proven to work – although it’s still not a panacea that cures people permanently all at once as some people claim. But: Technology obliterates the emotion associated with memory. Never completely erased such a memory from the brain.

Maybe even that will be possible someday. Brain scientist Maren Cross of Radboud University discovered in 2014 that it could erase memories in test subjects with a so-called electroconvulsive therapy, which is the delivery of an electric shock, he wrote at the time. in trade magazine natural neuroscience† A little too severe for a heart attack, but may be appropriate for PTSD.

The subjects – who were already undergoing treatment for major depression – were shown two emotionally charged stories, supported by a photo series. Immediately before the treatment, remember one of these two stories by viewing the photo series again. And guess what: After a day of treatment, participants gradually forgot this story, while the memory of the other story remained. This search was also When the media was already directly linked for the 2004 movie.

However, it is doubtful at best that such a thing would ever be possible for the complex and interconnected memories, accumulated over long periods in your life, for example, of your partner. So in real life, you will “unfortunately” have to continue to remember your ex even after a painful farewell.

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