AP Photo/Focus Features, David Lee
The fictional memory-erasing technology from "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" may one day become a reality, if researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have their way.
Scientists there say they've found a gene, known as Tet1, that "performs the role of memory extinction," meaning they can overwrite old memories with new ones. Lab tests conducted on mice revealed that those who had that gene inhibited failed to associate fear with a cage that gave them a small electrical shock, "because their memory of being hurt had already been replaced by new information."
"If there is a way to significantly boost the expression of these genes, then extinction learning is going to be much more active," the institute's director said.
Researchers are hoping they can one day use the technology with those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or are haunted by other distressing memories, providing a hopefully-permanent remedy to those issues. Maybe once those more serious problems are taken care of, real-life Clementines and Joels can use it to wipe away the remnants of bad relationships like in "Eternal Sunshine."
The study is set for publication in the upcoming issue of "Neuron." No telling on when this research will be perfected and performed on humans, but you might as well prepare a list of memories you want erased just in case.
[via Vanity Fair]