Brain Researchers Open Door To Editing Unwanted Memories.
N.Y. Times, Apr 6th, 2009
By Benedict Carey
Suppose scientists could erase certain memories by tinkering with a single substance in the brain. Could make you forget a chronic fear, a traumatic loss, even a bad habit.
Researchers in Brooklyn have recently accomplished comparable feats, with a single dose of an experimental drug delivered to areas of the brain critical for holding specific types of memory, like emotional associations, spatial knowledge or motor skills.
The drug blocks the activity of a substance that the brain apparently needs to retain much of its learned information. And if enhanced, the substance could help ward of dimensias and other memory problems.
So far, the research has been done on animals. But scientists say this memory system is likely to work almost identically in people.
The discovery of such an apparently critical memory molecule, and its many potential uses, are part of the buzz surrounding the field that, in just a few years, has made the seemingly impossible suddenly probable: neuroscience, the study of the brain.
"If this molecule is as important as it appears to be, you can see the possible implications," said Dr. Todd C. Sacktor, a 52-year-old neuroscientist who leads the team at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center, in Brooklyn, which demonstrated its effect on memory. "For trauma. For addiction, which is a learned behavior. Ultimately for improving memory and learning."
Artists and writers have led the exploration of identity, consciousness and memory for centuries. Yet even as scientists sent men to the moon and scacecraft to Saturn and submarines to the ocean floor, the instrument responsible for such feats, the human mind, remained almost entirely dark, a vast and mostly uncharted universe as mysterious as the New World was to explorers of the past....
....Dr. Fenton had already devised a clever way to teach animals strong memories for where things are located. He teaches them to move around a small chamber to avoid a mild electric shock [1] to their feet. Once the animals learn, they do not forget. Place back in the chamber a day later, even a month later, they quickly remember how to avoid the shock and do so....
  A Consience Blocker
"This possibility of memory editing has enormous possibilities [2] and raises huge ethical issues," said Dr. Steven E. Hyman, a neurobiologist at Harvard. "On the one hand, you can imagine a scenario in which a person enters a setting which elicits traumatic memories, but now has a drug that weakens those memories as they come up. Or, in the case of addiction, the drug that weakens the associations that stir craving."
....Yet as scientists begin to climb out of the dark foothills and into dim light, they are nowe poised to alter the understanding of human nature in ways that artists and writers have not [3].
Some observations on this:  

In general, this isn't a game.... or an ability to prove yourself worthy of a challenge.... and people are going to get horribly lost in you 'New World.'

Fine with animals (I suppose).
Enormous possibilities for scientific egos, rather than us, I suspect....
Leave it to the artists and the writers.