Project Total Recall & Inception: Finding & Manipulating Memories

Memory, in both computers and in the brain, is the process in which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved. Because we design computers, we understand how they work… but the brain is different. What seems to be a single memory is actually a complex group of systems that each play a different role in creating, storing, and recalling memories. Consider, the memory of your best friend. When you met that person, your visual system registered physical features, such as the color of their eyes. Your auditory system picked up the sound of their voice. These separate sensations are integrated into a single experience -- your best friend.

My guest this week is Steve Ramirez a graduate student at MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. He’s also one of MIT’s 35 Innovators Under 35.

We talk about his work on two science fiction-esque projects... aptly named Total Recall and Inception. Total Recall finds the brain cells, or neurons, responsible for a given memory and how they can actively retrieve that memory using pulses of light … and in Project Inception they were able to make a mouse believe it experienced an event it never did.


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