MIT Scientist Able To Turn On and Off Memories

In Evolved, memories are uploaded into the network and remain easily accessible to the individual. The benefits of the arrangement include a brain theoretically with greater plasticity, increasing adaptability and a larger percentage of neurons focused on processing power. The implications for self and ethics are immediately apparent, blurring the lines between the individual and the Superconscious. These metaphysical and ethical questions have proven a rich vein to explore.

Susuma Tonegawa, who won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1987, has recently shown that traditional neuroscience theories concerning memory formation and retrieval is incomplete. Memories are formed in the hippocampus, while the subliminal hippocampus retrieves memories. Memories are theoretically updated more quickly due to this evolutionary advantage (tens of milliseconds instead of hundred of milliseconds). The circuitry also suggests memories are more easily enhanced through repetitive experiences.

By turning the subliminal hippocampus on and off, Dr. Tonegawa’s team are able to determine whether memories are retrievable. The procedure could potentially eliminate a person’s fear of the dark, if based on an unpleasant memory.

The team also discovered that long-term memory formation in the prefrontal cortex and short-term memory formation in the hippocampus occurred at the same time. This marked a change from the earlier theory that memories migrated from the hippocampus to the prefrontal cortex. This development suggests the potential retrieval of memories previously considered irretrievable. Consider the ability to remember more detailed memories from your wedding day, or the birth of your children, or the ability to treat cognitive problems.

Who Are You If Others Store Your Memories?

From the perspective of Evolved, this research shows that external forces can determine memory formation and retrieval. Potentially, this suggests we could one day share memories within a larger consciousness, the Superconscious as I call it.

‘“I know a joke,” [Dr. Tonegawa] said cryptically. “Not injecting protein or genes, but I keep an external brain. I hold the information in that brain.” He pointed to Roy again — the person he counts on to remember things he can’t. “The only thing I have to do is have a relationship with that person,” he explained. It’s comforting, in a way, to know that the wizard of tracing and unlocking memories also believes that no brain is an island. “It’s better,” he said, “not to memorize everything.”’

If a world with a Superconscious develops, who are we? Who are you? Who am I?

Evolved Book Cover Evolved
Matthew G McKay