Newly Edited Memory is Possible..Not Only in Dollhouse

by admin on September 8, 2008 · 5 comments

EchoOne of the things that I like about the ‘Dollhouse’ premise (not the show, I haven’t seen that yet) is that it deals with fantastical science and it’s interaction with the human condition. At the heart of the premise is memory, or rather, mind-wiping. Such a vulgar term, but it is what it is. Anyways, I like the idea that Dollhouse is set in the current day, as it gives us a chance to compare the science-fiction promised in the show, with real-life science-fact. In particular, the question of whether or not it is possible wipe a persons memories and replace those memories with new ones? A Popsci article from 2006 would suggest that this is possible:

Clinical psychologist Alain Brunet of McGill University in Montreal doesn´t usually torture his patients. But lately he has been pressing those with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, to relive emotionally scarring incidents. For some it´s rape, others battlefield trauma. When his patients get particularly upset-crying, shaking, blood pressure rising-he gives them a 25-year-old hypertension drug called propranolol. The idea, though, is not to lower their blood pressure. Brunet´s goal is much more profound: to wipe away the trauma of bad memories.

Propranolol, it turns out, blocks the effects of stress hormones, which the body creates during traumatic â€fight or flight†situations. These hormones serve a critical function-namely, they help us survive life-threatening scenarios by sharpening our senses. But they can also permanently scorch traumatic sights, sounds and smells into the brain, creating a biochemical warehouse in which bad memories can live forever. For the estimated 1.9 million Americans suffering from PTSD, recalling a traumatic event can elicit the same panic response as the event itself.

Harvard University psychiatrist Roger Pitman has already published study results showing that patients given propranolol shortly after a traumatic event are significantly less emotional when recalling the experience. Now he and Brunet are taking the idea even further, attempting to deaden bad memories years after traumatic experiences. Their efforts build on groundbreaking research by Karim Nader, another McGill scientist, whose 2000 studies in rats showed that memories don´t become completely fixed in the brain, as was previously thought. Instead, when memories are recalled, they temporarily transfer back to short-term storage, where they can be more easily â€edited.â€

Brunet´s hope is that the drug will subdue the patient´s stress response and soften his or her perception of the traumatic memory [see illustration], thereby helping the patient create a new memory of the event-one without all the emotional baggage. So the next time the patient recalls the trauma, the memory of it will no longer cause panic.

It’s not that difficult to see how this could be compared to the Dollhouse mind-wiping. With this in mind, and with Tahmoh Penikett’s belief that the actives are indeed volunteers, just what on earth did Echo and her buddies want to forget?

Source: Popsci

Rikardo September 9, 2008 at 12:42 am

Why did you take my fansite (The Dollhouse – thedollhouse.pt.vu) of your links?

Roco September 9, 2008 at 1:42 am

Hey Rikardo,

(You could have emailed me for this :))

I haven’t taken your site out of my links, it’s still here on my links page: http://watchingdollhouse.com/links/

I just moved most of the links from my sidebar as it was too cluttered, especially with the other items I plan to put in there.

If you really want, I don’t mind adding your site in my sidebar section as well as my links page. I’m good like that 😀

Rikardo September 9, 2008 at 2:10 am

Yes I could, and I should, but I kinda didn’t notice you had an e-mail. My bad! Yes, you’re good like but there’s no need. It was just a question.

Rikardo September 9, 2008 at 2:11 am

*”yes you’re good like…” –> “yes you’re gook like that…” Oops…

Roco September 9, 2008 at 2:26 am

Ah, No worries about the email, I’ll add your link to my sidebar anyway : )

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