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Mind Drives for Therapeutic and Mind Longevity

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Brett M.
Brett M. Nov 25, 2020
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Imagine you are experiencing episodes of memory loss and forgetfulness... Slowly but surely, you begin to succumb to the impending negative consequences of dementia. Memory loss becomes more serious with every day you live. Nothing seems to give and your memory loss is now causing disturbances in your daily life and relationships with loved ones. What can be done about this?

Luckily, you kept that USB key around with encrypted data storing your memories of people, faces, and things. Wouldn't it be great if things were this simple?

In a world where we are on the brink of understanding the deep secrets of the human mind, how close are we to extrapolating the electrical signals of the brain into packets of data that can be stored and restored using computational neuroscience? Perhaps, by using electroencephalography (EEG) to record electrical patterns given off by the brain, we can piece together a library of images and words that correspond to these distinct patterns (see EEG reveals image in short-term memory - Futurity). For example, we could establish a system where an individual is asked to think of a red apple and at the same time, record the electrical pattern given off by the brain. After repeating this process with multiple participants, would it be possible to take an average of electrical activity for each participant and stored this distinct pattern as the brain's "language correlate" of a red apple?

Think of the applications this could have in those who may experience memory loss... If we can record deep representations from within the brain that correspond to memories of loved ones, favorite vacations, or pets we have encountered in our life, we may be able to restore these memories if we could somehow reverse engineer EEG electrodes to emit signals rather than capture them. What are some thoughts about this?

Alternative uses outside of combatting age-related illness can range from simple moments of reflection when we feel nostalgic or recounting memories (i.e., eyewitness testimony) of a crime scene.

What if we had a "mind USB drive" of some sort that is wired to our CNS--similar to how a hearing aid is wired to the cochlea of the inner ear--so that we can store memories as we form them, and recall them when necessary. This may be a bit of a reach, but the technology may be closer than we think. Studies are already demonstrating ways we can control distinct memories, known as engrams (How to see a memory (nature.com)), to block fearful or traumatic events. Think of how useful this technology could be for individuals that suffer from PTSD. What are your thoughts on this?
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General comments

Spook Louw
Spook Louw3 years ago
While we might still be a way off from storing actual memories, the concept is doable. Imagine a company that provides a service of organizing and storing your history, both for you, and the loved ones you might one day leave behind.
Essentially they would write a biography for you, collecting all the keepsakes, photos, videos and voice recording that they can find and compiling it, along with your story in writing, to be accessed by you or your loved ones whenever you want.

Apart from helping people when they start experiencing memory loss or being a nice way to remember loved ones when they pass on, this could also be a valuable method of recording the history of our culture and species in the future. At the moment, I can imagine that a million years from now, whoever the sentient inhabitants of earth might be at the time will think that the entire human race consisted of Hollywood actors, old sporting heroes and disgraced politicians, as they are the only ones who's lives are being immortalized in biographical form. I think it would be great to build up a database of stories of "normal" people.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni3 years ago
The Black Mirror episode "The Entire History of You" from season 1 talks about the exact same thing, if I remember it properly. They could store and playback the memories and watch it like watching a video using virtual reality gear.

This technology can help coma patients. You use the memories of the patient and play them in their brain. A study revealed that hearing memories from their kin can help the patients with a speedy recovery. This technology can take it a step further and directly switch on specific memories in the patient's brain.

1. https://news.feinberg.northwestern.edu/2015/01/pape-coma-voices/
2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288463
3. https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/medical-advances/family-voices-coma-care
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Brett M.
Brett M.3 years ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni Very cool episode, indeed. This also brings up the issue that some also may have if they have problems letting go of some memories. I remember the main character would ruminate over negative memories and drive him mad. This could be an issue, but perhaps this may be why this technology would be more useful in the clinical setting... Thanks for your comment!
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