Erase Memories, Because… “Why Not?”

Ripped directly from the headlines of tomorrow comes the announcement that men in black are indeed here now. Never fear though. A bit of future technology, now well into the experimental phase, has effectively been used on test subjects to wipe selective memories.

According to an article in sciencemag.org,

We have shown previously that lateral amygdala (LA) neurons with increased cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element–binding protein (CREB) are preferentially activated by fear memory expression, which suggests that they are selectively recruited into the memory trace. We used an inducible diphtheria-toxin strategy to specifically ablate these neurons.

…Or in lay-speak, “See that bit of brain there? When I scooped it out, he didn’t remember anymore. Cool, huh?”

Wow, how’s that work?

Because memories are found in specific collections of neurons, haphazardly zig-zagging the brain, and digging around in the brain is kind of hard (it’s brain surgery, not simple rocket science), finding the particular cells that carry a memory is like finding a needle in an active volcano.

This new development, however, uses a CREB protein as a marker, dropping the difficulty to finding a needle in a hive of fire-ants. This highlights the role of a particular neuron bundle in a memory (snip, easy as circumcision), and suddenly Uncle Rick is no longer lobbing coffee cups at Thanksgiving dinner when the electric carver reminds him of Charlie back in ‘Nam.

Now, when it comes to memory, we’ve seen how to fix it in the elderly, implant fake memories for entertaining the kids, and even develop photographic recollection, but now: Eternal Sunshine, Total Recall, Memento; take your pick. On Monday, how bout Jason Bourne-ing” the shit out of your parents and when they start to suspect they’re super-soldiers, leap out with an “April Fools, you’re actually a middle-class suburbanite!!!” Get’s ’em every time.

Joking aside, obviously the ramifications of this new procedure are staggering, and the potential for… wait… What was I talking about?

Fun side-note:

Anyway. Almost totally unrelated (segways are for chumps), something you won’t want to forget: kick-start you day being serenaded in Portuguese by a dimply Brazilian girl. Easier to greet the world with a smile…

Sources:

Selective Erasure of a Fear Memory (sciencemag.org)

Erasing a Memory Reveals the Neurons that Encode it (discovermagazine.com)

Computers Sustain and Improve Mind and Memory of the Elderly (wondergressive.com)

Controlling Dreams and Implanting Memories (wondergressive.com)

Experiments in Photographic Memory (Phase 1: Guinea Pig) (wondergressive.com)

Felicidade – Marcelo Jeneci (youtube.com)

Woman Needs a New Ear, Grows a New One on Her Arm

Photo Credit: Johns Hopkins University

Photo Credit: Johns Hopkins University

After having her ear removed to stop the spread of cancer, doctors at Johns Hopkins Institute decided Sherrie Walter needed a new one.  The doctors used bone, cartilage, skin, and arteries to build a new ear, and then stored it under her forearm to allow it to grow.

The ear is in fact an exact replica.  After having it surgically attached to her head, the doctors added an internal hearing aid. Walter was filled with hope and relief during the entire ordeal.

“When my doctors told me reconstruction was possible, I thought it was too good to be true; it sounded like science fiction.  Just learning that reconstructing my ear was doable gave me sufficient physical and emotional strength, as well as the confidence I needed to go through with the surgeries.”

Finally a point to having so much free limb space.  The days when peoples’ arms and legs are lined with spare noses, ears, fingers and toes is quickly approaching.

 

Sources:

Johns Hopkins: Johns Hopkins Sugeons Use Woman’s Own Tissue to Rebuild Ear Lost to Cancer

Huffington Post: Ear Reconstruction Utilizes Patient’s Tissue, Forearm In Innovative Surgery

Implantable Telescope Restores Elderly Vision

It’s too late for the elderly of the world to undergo laser eye surgery, but all hope is not lost.  Researchers have developed an implantable telescope that completely restores vision, well sort of.

The easily implanted, pea sized telescope doesn’t actually restore vision, but in fact redirects incoming light to healthier areas of the retina.

The telescopic implant restores vision by projecting images onto an undamaged portion of the retina, which makes it possible for patients to again see people’s faces and the details of objects located directly in front of them.

Virginia Bane, an 89 year old artist from California, was the first person to undergo the surgery. According to Bane:

I can see better than ever now. Colors are more vibrant, beautiful and natural, and I can read large print with my glasses. I haven’t been able to read for the past seven years. I look forward to being able to paint again.

Richard Van Buskirk, an optometrist, explains that Virginia will continue to regain vision as she retrains her brain to see. The implant, which is only in her left eye, will help her to see details and small text, while her right eye will provide peripheral vision.

I’d like to get a pair of these telescopic eyes to help me be more romantic. I could view spectacular sunsets all around the world at anytime of the day! Sure, ocular telescopes might not be the most aesthetically pleasing sight, but they improve vision, so that totally equals out.

 

Sources:

http://gizmodo.com/5945406/this-tiny-telescope-implant-gives-eyesight-to-the-blind