Erasing Memories

Two Pencil Erasers
Begone, Bad Memories: How would you like to erase some of your memories, perhaps zapping away the more painful moments in your life, never to be tortured by them again? In the news earlier this fall, State University New York Downstate Medical Center researchers reported discovering a molecular mechanism responsible for sustaining long-term memories in the brain. According to the researchers, they were able to block this molecule, which led to the erasure of long-term memories, similar to how you would erase a computer disc.

Future Possibilities: Although science is nowhere near being able to delete our memory molecules, the possibility is an interesting one to think about. Researchers hope that one day they will be able to do this as treatment for certain conditions that are caused by brain connections, including phantom limb syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What Do You Think?: If you had the chance to erase some of your memories, would you do it? How about getting rid of all those memories of oppression or discrimination you may have experienced as a Deaf person? Or those depressing feelings from a particularly upsetting break-up. Even memories of childhood abuse. Is it a good or a bad option to be able to erase certain memories?

We wonder how doing so might change other aspects of someone’s personality. Erasing memories of traumatic incidents such as rape or torture might free someone from continuously re-experiencing trauma, and might be relatively easier to justify erasing than just any bad memory. Other difficult life events, such as the death of someone close to you or a particularly frustrating work experience, serve a sort of purpose in helping us grow and develop sensitivity and empathy. Without these memories of sad or trying moments in our lives, we might not appreciate the good parts of our lives as much. Tell us what you think.

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