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Can the memory erasure in Doctor who be realized? Neuroscientists have the answer.

2024-07-13 Update From: SLTechnology News&Howtos shulou NAV: SLTechnology News&Howtos > IT Information >

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This article comes from the official account of Wechat: SF Chinese (ID:kexuejiaodian), author: SF

Doctor who has the ability to erase people's memories, but this is just a fictional assumption of science fiction. In reality, it is almost impossible to completely erase a particular memory.

/ tr. by Stephen Kelly (Stephen Kelly)

Translation | Li Shijie

Editor | Chen Qiang

The original article is published in Science focus, No. 01, 2024.

The fourth season of the British science fiction drama Doctor who (Doctor Who) ended in July 2008. Many of the plots in the play are still unforgettable. But Donna Noble, the beloved heroine of the audience, lost this memory.

It turned out that Donna had been instilled with too much knowledge from the time Lord, the fictional alien race in the show, and Doctor who had to erase all the memories of their shared experiences in order to avoid damaging her brain. However, some people are skeptical about the setting of the plot.

Completely erase a memory that is unachievable? British neuroscientist Dean Burnett (Dean Burnett) said: "the capacity of human memory is not known." First of all, this is because no one has lived long enough to touch the memory limit. Second, if you store all your feelings on a computer, your hard drive will soon be full. But that's not how memory works. We don't remember everything that happens when we're awake, nor do we remember every detail of every experience. Our brains actually store memories in a discrete way. "

Therefore, Donna's brain damage caused by too much knowledge seems unreasonable from a scientific point of view. Even so, Burnett also points out that it is not impossible to erase someone's memory.

"if you allow enough electricity to pass through the main memory storage area of the brain, memory will be disturbed or lost," Burnett said. "but how to safely erase a particular memory is another matter."

However, it is too absurd to erase a particular memory as in Doctor who.

"We can't look at a person's brain and say, 'this is the memory of his first bike,'" Burnett said. "the best we can do is look at a person's brain with a scanner. see which brain areas are activated when he thinks of the bike. But even so, we can't be sure where the memory is stored. Because in addition to the activation of the frontal lobe, which is responsible for retrieving memories, many areas are also activated-these areas may store other information related to the things we want to recall, such as a childhood memory. That's why it's so difficult to erase a particular memory. "

Can you use psychological means to avoid a certain memory? Perhaps only the time lords who have survived for 900 years will be able to figure out how to separate and erase specific memories. However, Burnett came up with another theory: doctor who did not erase Donna's memory, he just interfered with her memory so that she could not remember the experience.

"even if Doctor who could separate memories, it would be an extremely tedious process," Burnett said. "it would be easier and safer to impose some kind of psychological barrier on those memories. let her brain know that those memories are in an insurmountable forbidden zone. This is equivalent to making people suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People with post-traumatic stress disorder actively avoid anything that might evoke traumatic memories, sometimes even unconsciously, because their brains have developed an automatic avoidance mechanism. "

In 2009, the plot setting of Doctor who's Christmas special, the end of time (The End of Time), provided strong support for Burnett's theory. In this series, almost everyone on earth has become a clone of the super villain "master", a scene that triggers Donna's sleeping memory.

"for people with post-traumatic stress disorder, if they are exposed to triggers beyond their control, it may lead to the re-emergence of previous traumatic memories," Burnett said. because it may be difficult for the brain to suppress these memories. "

Conclusion through some psychological means, it may be possible for a person to avoid a certain memory, but it is almost impossible to completely erase a certain memory.

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