New memory tech will change how we think & learn

July 21 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

If there was a pill that could immediately improve your memory, enabling you to recall any selected event in your past with sharp detail, would you take it? How about a pill that would erase an unwanted memory, like a traumatic childhood event that still bothers you in adult life?

And even more radical, would you like to download knowledge directly into your brain enabling you to immediately speak and understand a new language, or instantly learn any new subject matter, without suffering through the lengthy process of learning from scratch?

Memory-management drugs that address the first two questions are being developed now and should be available in about five years, according to Memory Pharmaceuticals,, a leading New Jersey drug research firm.

Most of these memory remedies focus on boosting recall, but some address the 13 million Americans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder with drugs that will dim, or even erase, traumatic memories. Such products promise to revolutionize psychotherapy. Instead of trying to overcome a past trauma, patients will soon be able to simply erase all memories of the event as if it had never happened – problem solved.

A more radical and futuristic technology, downloading knowledge directly into our brain, could be available in the near future, according to Peter Passaro, graduate student at Georgia Tech, in his article posted at Passaro suggests that mind-machine interfaces will be available by 2020, and he mentions how this might be accomplished. (cont.)

We could create a brain implant similar to the way cochlear implants improve hearing today, he says. This would fool the brain into thinking it had already learned the information. Or we might use upcoming nanotechnology to restructure our neurons giving them advanced programming of any knowledge we wanted.

These futuristic projections may sound like science fiction, but when we anticipate how new research is unfolding – the recent brain-mapping project launched by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, completion of the Human Genome Project, and other advancing research – we can safely predict that these “miracles” will, beyond any doubt, become part of our everyday life in the future.

Memory-managing drugs hold promise to change the boundaries of freedom of thought similar to how the Internet is changing freedom of speech. And direct brain downloads – as far out as it sounds – promises to one day offer amazing intelligence boosts to everyone on earth.

As we enter into what positive futurists refer to as a “magical future” time, we realize that science and technologies can do more than just repair sick people; they can raise our standard of living, add to our happiness, and greatly improve how we interact with the world around us. Comments welcome.

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Comment Thread (6 Responses)

  1. I think it fabulous that I may live (now 60) to see a time whereby I may be able to have a neural implant that will enhance my ability to communicate in other languages. Likewise with those future pharmaceuticals that will accomplish the same thing. As an American working and living in Germany, I have opportunity to interact with many European language groups but have not the language skills to successfully communicate in their mother tongues. To add to this, my adopted family is German and my language capacity is marginal at best. So, once the tech comes that will give me a boost, I shall embrace wholeheartedly.

    Posted by: suttercain7734   July 22, 2008
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  2. I too think that memory augmentation, increased info processing capabilities, and instant knowledge download/linking will be a major wave of the near-future (next 15 years). Case in point is how people gravitate to google, mind-enhancing drugs and other learning efficiencies. On the flipside, I do think we’ll run into some barriers that, if crossed, will force us to re-evaluate exactly what/who we are as individuals. To rewrite fundamental parts of a personality system / brain will change our behavior, allow for direct-brain viruses (or hyper-accelerate memes) and so forth. There will be pressure to quickly solve all of these issues, which will force an acceleration in the quantification of human and biological systems (this force will come from all directions, seems to be fundamentally built into the web of life), but there will also be some freaky never-before-seen occurrences/ramifications.

    In the shorter term, I think that techniques that “fool the brain into thinking it had already learned the information”, as you mention, will be paramount, as it will take a while to develop the comprehensive understanding to go further – which will ultimately transform the notion of humanity.

    Posted by: Alvis Brigis   July 22, 2008
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  3. As a person with a poor head for remembering details and events in my past, I think I would love to have my memory improved, as long as there were no hideous side-effects.

    Posted by: fantasywriter   July 23, 2008
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  4. There is no mention of how exactly the drugs will target specific memories. To say that there will be drugs capable or erasing memories and highlighting others within five years, seems a bit premature. I checked out the Memory Pharmaceutical Company website and could not find any mention of research into PTSD or memory augmentation. There was only mention of Alzheimer’s and even that is not understood today.

    The brain is much more complex than people sometimes realize and simply taking a drug where a chemical agonist or antagonist would supposedly target memories is far-fetched.

    Still, I found the ideas presented in this article ones worth writing about.

    Posted by: justinelee   July 24, 2008
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  5. The Memory Pharmaceutical researcher that was involved in this study is no longer with the company, but here’s what their research had uncovered:

    They found that Propranolol, a high blood pressure drug blocked the action of adrenaline produced by the body when recalling an unpleasant memory, which dimmed the memory of the event. Patients focused on the traumatic event while taking this drug and eventually the memory began to fade.

    Of course, everyone is not in favor of memory drugs; some think our memories are nothing short of sacred.

    However, people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a crushing psychiatric disorder that occurs following an extremely stressful experience or witnessing a life-threatening event, such as terrorist attacks, violent personal assaults, or natural disasters will benefit from this futuristic technology.

    Posted by: futuretalk   July 24, 2008
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  6. Hi futuretalk, thanks for the additional information on the drug. Those who suffer from PTSD certainly deserve a chance to lessen or completely erase those traumatic memories.

    Posted by: justinelee   July 25, 2008
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