Scientists Can Implant False Memories

We’ve all seen the movies based on memories. Peering into people’s memories to extract evidence against giant government plots and having their memories wiped to create entirely new identities. We are now one step closer as researchers in Japan have developed a trick to implant false memories, or rather visions, into a person’s brain.

The new technique was created with the hopes that they could use it to create a positive association system, effectively rewriting people’s brains to treat conditions such as depression and autism.

The technique was enforced by asking people to focus on a set of black grated lines while having their brain activity monitored an fMRI machine. Over the course of the experiment people were asked to “try to somehow regulate [their] brain activity”. If their brain activity became “regulated” they would be shown a solid grey circle, instead when their brain activity resembled the same activity as seeing the red colour they created the grey circle, effectively reinforcing the idea that the colour red was the right colour to imagine.

This very same pattern was shown to be effective five months later, with people still associating the grated lines with the colour red. With the associative learning task being reinforced through positive reinforcement, it could be possible to “enhance” memories and senses related to a particular mood or experience, effectively creating false memories for people to recall and act upon.

Gareth Andrews

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