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A Drug That Could Give You Perfect Visual Memory

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  1. chillinwill
    Imagine if you could look at something once and remember it forever. You would never have to ask for directions again. Now a group of scientists has isolated a protein that mega-boosts your ability to remember what you see.

    A group of Spanish researchers reported today in Science that they may have stumbled upon a substance that could become the ultimate memory-enhancer. The group was studying a poorly-understood region of the visual cortex. They found that if they boosted production of a protein called RGS-14 (pictured) in that area of the visual cortex in mice, it dramatically affected the animals' ability to remember objects they had seen.

    Mice with the RGS-14 boost could remember objects they had seen for up to two months. Ordinarily the same mice would only be able to remember these objects for about an hour.

    The researchers concluded that this region of the visual cortex, known as layer six of region V2, is responsible for creating visual memories. When the region is removed, mice can no longer remember any object they see.

    If this protein boosts visual memory in humans, the implications are staggering. In their paper, the researchers say that it could be used as a memory-enhancer – which seems like an understatement. What's particularly intriguing is the fact that this protein works on visual memory only. So as I mentioned earlier, it would be perfect for mapping. It would also be useful for engineers and architects who need to hold a lot of visual images in their minds at once. And it would also be a great drug for detectives and spies.

    Could it also be a way to gain photographic memory? For example, if I look at a page of text will I remember the words perfectly? Or will I simply remember how the page looked?

    I can't see much of a downside for this potential drug, unless the act of not forgetting what you see causes problems or trauma.

    By Annalee Newitz
    12:36 PM on Thu Jul 2 2009
    io9
    http://io9.com/5306489/a-drug-that-could-give-you-perfect-visual-memory

Comments

  1. shanesmith7
    I'm sure they'll start putting it in swim's vitamin water ::p great article though!
  2. purplehaze147
    It sounds like a good concept, but how would someone control how long it lasts? Also how would someone control when they see that image? Swim just can't imagine how it would work with humans.
  3. dutch-marshal
    wow how interesting!
    wonder how this will work out! i don't think it will be all good... people are meant to forget you know..
  4. slimbo73
    :) Sounds amazing! What did they use to boost the production of this protein and does this particular protein exist in humans?
  5. Alfa
    We need to know more about this!
  6. Senor Gribson
    Hot damn!
    Too bad this wasn't discovered earlier on in SWIM's career as a student.
    They don't mention any side effects, but one would think a drug like this would build some kind of tolerance, resulting in a loss of memory over the long term.
  7. ninjaned
    this sounds brilliant, but do you really think that this is something that people would use? it seems like one of those things, thats a brilliant idea, but never sees the light of day after its fifteen minuets of fame, because new idea's that improve people's inherent flaws seem to make people uncomfortable...
  8. readyforthefloor
    Very interesting, but how can you test a mouses' memory?
  9. Imafish
    Before deciding if this is a good drug, extensive testing should be done. I have not read the original article, however, I have serious doubts that it would work the way we all want it to. Will we be able to memorize a sheet of answers for a test or our 8 digit driver's license number in a matter of seconds? or will we just recognize that same piece of paper or number if put in front of us??
    Thats the problem. there is some skepticism about the relevance of the method that was used.
  10. Expat98
    Be careful what you wish for. Would you really want to be able to remember everything you see in excruciating detail? Or let me put the question another way: Would you really want to be unable to forget every single thing you see? The brain only has a limited capacity for processing information and would quickly be overwhelmed by all this visual detail. Actually many neuroscientists think that the ability to forget is just as important as the ability to remember. One problem with certain savants is that they seem to be unable to forget certain types of information, and it overwhelms them and prevents them from being able to do other things.
  11. drug-bot
    [h2]Role of Layer 6 of V2 Visual Cortex in Object-Recognition Memory[/h2]
    Manuel F. López-Aranda,1,2,4 Juan F. López-Téllez,1,2,4 Irene Navarro-Lobato,1 Mariam Masmudi-Martín,1 Antonia Gutiérrez,3,4 Zafar U. Khan1,2,4,*

    Cellular responses in the V2 secondary visual cortex to simple as well as complex visual stimuli have been well studied. However, the role of area V2 in visual memory remains unexplored. We found that layer 6 neurons of V2 are crucial for the processing of object-recognition memory (ORM). Using the protein regulator of G protein signaling–14 (RGS-14) as a tool, we found that the expression of this protein into layer 6 neurons of rat-brain area V2 promoted the conversion of a normal short-term ORM that normally lasts for 45 minutes into long-term memory detectable even after many months. Furthermore, elimination of the same-layer neurons by means of injection of a selective cytotoxin resulted in the complete loss of normal as well as protein-mediated enhanced ORM.

    [SIZE=-1]1 Laboratory of Neurobiology, Centro de Investigaciones Médico-Sanitarias, University of Malaga, Campus Teatinos s/n, 29071 Malaga, Spain.
    2 Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaga, Campus Teatinos s/n, 29071 Malaga, Spain.
    3 Department of Cell Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Malaga, Campus Teatinos s/n, 29071 Malaga, Spain.
    4 Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red sobre Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas (CIBERNED), Institute of Health Carlos III, Madrid, Spain. [/SIZE]
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/325/5936/87
  12. Sven99
    Its probably worth pointing out that there are people who can recall visual memory almost perfectly, and a lot of them are autistic to some degree. mucking around with the brain on this kind of level is not something to undertake lightly.

    Not to condemn this new drug, but there should be more research into exactly how it affects the brain and possible side effects before psychonauts start using it to improve their memory.
  13. NeuroChi
    This sounds like a myth to me, do you have a source for this information? It is actually quite rare that people with autism show 'Savant Syndrome' as well, which is an extraordinary ability that is not present in the general population.

    Very good point Expat. Upon first reading this article, I began to wonder when I'd be able to get my hands onto this stuff. However, those mice that could remember objects for months at a time probably also remember every single little detail of every thing they've seen as well, and I think that would be quite debilitating in humans.
  14. Sven99
    Your source says it in the first sentence! It even provides an estimate of 1 in 10 autistic people being savant in some way - I'd posit thats a big overestimation personally. Its rare for people with autism to have it, but its almost non-existent in non-autistic people.

    I'm not saying that this drug will give people autism. That would be crazy. I'm just saying that its the kind of thing we shouldn't do lightly, and that it should be extensively studied.
  15. NeuroChi
    That's the point I was trying to make, that one in ten people with autism showing savant syndrome is not a lot, it's the minority rather than the majority.

    I would agree that this sounds like an overestimate, I think it is more rare than commonly believed.

    That being said, you bring up an interesting idea with your comment on this drug causing autism. Although I didn't even consider this, would it really be that crazy? If someone was enhanced with an incredible photographic memory, maybe they would no longer be able to function in society as effectively as everyone else. Part of holding a face to face conversation is to focus on what is being said, and shut out other stimuli from the environment. I know people with autism have trouble socializing to a certain degree, so perhaps someone with an incredible memory would have a similar problem as well, and consequently display symptoms similar to autism...
  16. Sven99
    Agreed. My point is that among people with perfect visual memory or similar savant conditions, those with autism are a vast majority.

    This is exactly my point. Enhancing one part of the memory so significantly could be detrimental to other areas simply by giving the mind so much to focus on.

    Although it could well be an amazing nootropic ::thumbsup:
  17. Coconut
    Absolutely. Well said.

    This could be helpful for people with poor visual memory, but as with all these cognitive enhancers, there will be calls for the general population to take them on a regular basis, as though humans need tinkering with. I remember some doctors calling for regular doses of methylphenidate, aspirin and other substances too. The dangers of recreational drugs pale in comparison to this kind of thinking.
  18. Audiophile
    Great find on that article! It is so interesting to see if it has more positive effects than negative. I think the biggest downside, excluding side effects and possible brain damage, is that if we take this drug and all of a sudden see a big catastrophe or remember something bad from our past, it will become encrypted in our brain. So we gotta be careful what it is that we will remember.

    Another big one to consider is our interpretation of what is a reality and what is imagination. If we take this drug, what is the possibility that whatever we think of become encrypted as something we would believe to be real? It would be interesting to have some of this drug before and after watching a movie like Iron Man or Harry Potter :)
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