It has long been a dream of science fiction writers: one day we will be able to erase painful memories and create happy memories.
But now scientists at the University of Oxford say that fiction is closer to reality than we might have thought.
Because they are on the verge of developing technology that will enable us to eradicate difficult episodes from the past and make the best even better.
By electronically tinkering with brainwaves that fix our memories in place, we will soon be able to treat conditions, including memory loss and post-traumatic stress disorder, by removing what we need, said researcher Laurie Pycroft.
Scientists from the University of Oxford are at the start of developing technology that will enable us to erase difficult episodes from the past and make the best even better
Using the same techniques, we can use the so-called & quot; memory prostheses & # 39; insert to improve our memories or even create new memories.
The idea was the basis for the 1990 film Total Recall, based on a short story by Philip K Dick, in which the Douglas Quaid character by Arnold Schwarzenegger makes a virtual vacation – only to discover that the life he thought he was leading lie.
Mr. Pycroft, a doctoral researcher and expert in implantable neuromodulation devices at Oxford's functional neurosurgery, said: "Memory implants are a real and exciting prospect and offer significant health benefits.
The prospect of being able to change and improve our memories with electrodes may sound like fiction.
The idea was the basis for the 1990 film Total Recall, based on a short story by Philip K Dick, in which the character Douglas Quaid of Arnold Schwarzenegger (above) makes a virtual holiday – only to discover that the life he thought he was led, was a lie
& # 39; But it is based on solid science, the foundation of which already exists.
& # 39; Memory prostheses are only a matter of time. & # 39;
The ability to electronically capture the brain waves that build up memories and then improve or even rewrite them before they & # 39; back & # 39; to be put, may have been removed for only a decade, experts say.
But there is a dark side: cyber attackers may one day be able to steal our memories remotely or even implant fake ones by focusing on the mind-reading devices.
Dmitry Galov from cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab, which collaborates with Oxford, said: "Although no attacks on neurostimulators have been observed in the wild, there are weaknesses that are not difficult to exploit. & # 39;
The Oxford Functional Neurosurgery Group already uses neurostimulators embedded in the brains of patients to relieve the symptoms of various diseases.
The surgically implanted devices, which resemble pacemakers, deliver small pulses of electricity to the target area of the brain or spinal cord.
For example, focusing on a deep brain structure called the subthalamic nucleus can relieve stiffness, slowness of movement and tremor in people with Parkinson's.