The discovery that RNA from trained animals can transfer the engram for long-term sensitization in Aplysia offers dramatic support for the idea that memory can be stored nonsynaptically, and indicates the limitations of the synaptic plasticity model of long-term memory storage. In addition, our results suggest that RNA could eventually be used to modify, either enhance or depress, memories.
[W]hat was transferred here was hardly a memory in the usual sense of the word. It is simply an increase in the sensitivity of a set of neurons, a single reflex pathway. This “memory” is not specific to any particular stimulus. The training consisted of shocking the animals, which makes them more likely to withdraw in response to touch — not to shock, but any touch. It’s just “turning up the dial” on that reflex. It is hard to see how this relates to the far more complex types of memory in humans.
And finally, the Friar:
I was also sort of hoping that the technique might lead to the development of its opposite as well, in which we could have memories completely removed. The aforementioned Kardashians are on that list (I would, in fact, argue for laws that made the treatment mandatory). So is most of what Elizabeth Warren or Sean Hannity has ever said. And the horrible sight of my 2016 presidential ballot, asking me to select the electors for either Donald J. Trump or Hillary R. Clinton. Sure, there was also the choice of selecting electors for Gary Johnson, and that’s the choice I made. But those other two? Brother, that’s one abyss that gazes back at you hard and it’s a memory I’d rather paper over and forget it’s there.
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I’m surprised I remembered all this.