It sounds like the stuff of science-fiction and geek ideology, but the ability to download memories may be a full blown reality for the future generations of planet Earth. Science (well, Neuroscience, Neuroengineering, and Optogenetics to be exact) is getting closer and closer to creating a solution for this fascinating prospect.
Just imagine being able to download memories from a favorite holiday or event in your life. You’d be able to store these memories forever and then simply upload them again when you want to reminisce. You’d be able to remember your favorite gig like it was today, not yesterday. It’s pretty awesome stuff, but is it really feasible?
[O]ne genius from MIT named Ed Boyden is developing ways of using light to decode brain patterns and control the activity of neurons. This is the deeply complex world of Optogenetics. Through scouring nature’s wonders, he’s found proteins that convert light into electricity. He can then insert these proteins into neurons via a harmless virus that most of you reading this probably already have. When he flashes light on these neurons, their electrical signalling pathways activate. Ed can then go on to map out these pathways with the help of specially designed computer software. He’s already used this approach to cure analogs of PTSD in mice, and hopes to develop ‘Neuroprosthetics’ in the future, which could help restore neurons to full functionality in conditions such as Alzheimer’s, where neural functionality is lost.
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