It’s uncommon for us, at SciFighting, to report on news outside the scope of fight science however this news was just too juicy to resist and draws some parallels on the very real possibility of psychological warfare that is beyond knowledge or imagination.
Yesterday BBC news reported on a recent scientific experiment involving mice and false memories. According to the BBC “A team was able to make the mice wrongly associate a benign environment with a previous unpleasant experience from different surroundings.”
Of course with such a story it’s impossible not to think of the 1990’s classic, Total Recall, staring none other than the former California “Governator” (and the remake which was an utter disappointment of 2012).
The applications scientists were examining for this science involved gaining a better understanding of false memory, evolving memories, silencing fear and diseases of thought in humans. Many of you have likely experienced or witnessed the phenomenon of an evolving or fall memory where an individual can spontaneously generate details to existing or entirely new memories of events that were not accurate and even substantially different from the reality of the events they were associated with.
You might be wondering how they did it. Again pulling from the BBC article on the topic:
- A mouse was put in one environment (blue box) and the brain cells encoding memory were labelled in this environment (white circles)
- These cells were then made responsive to light
- The animal was placed in a different environment (the red box) and light was delivered into the brain to activate these labelled cells
- This induced the recall of the first environment – the blue box. While the animal was recalling the first environment, they also received mild foot shocks
- Later when the mouse was put back into the first environment, it showed behavioural signs of fear, indicating it had formed a false fear memory for the first environment, where it was never shocked in reality
As with all advances in technology someone will find a way to weaponize these prospects and it may not be too far in the future when we begin to see the effects of psychological warfare induced purely by memory modification and memory implantation.
To quote Sun Tzu – “Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.” His quote refers to the fact that strategy, tactics and psychology of an army will determine success before the actual fight begins. With technology such as that these scientists are experimenting with we may one day master Sun Tzu’s concept of the Supreme Art of War, “to subdue the enemy without fighting.”