Muddle-headed Kay (mhw) wrote,
Muddle-headed Kay

This journal has been placed in memorial status. New entries cannot be posted to it.

  • Mood:

Interesting and worrying

There was a fascinating interview on BBC World Service last week about the function of a protein known as CREB (cyclic AMP-response element binding protein) in the transfer of memories from short-term to long-term storage. I've just written a short letter to Prof. Arthur Caplan, who gave the talk, since to me the manipulation of memory has undoubtedly unpleasant possibilities.

Dear Professor Caplan,

I was most interested to hear last week your interview on the BBC's World Service about the role of CREB in long-term memory.

It struck me that drugs that could prevent or disrupt the production of long-term memory might pose an unfortunate ethical risk. Judicial systems around the world rely, to a greater or lesser extent, on the recall of victims in prosecuting cases of abuse and torture. If a drug existed - perhaps one affecting CREB - that would in effect render someone incapable of recalling what was done to them, would it not be of benefit to individuals or régimes who would wish their use of torture to continue to pass unnoticed by silencing those victims?

As an informed layperson, I do not know how close such technology is to being practical, but I would welcome your thoughts and comments on this worrying possibility.

Yours faithfully,

Kay Dekker

I wonder if he'll find time to reply. If he does, I'll let you all know what he says.

And now back to work again...

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