Memory prosthetics - for the uploading and downloading of specific memories or new memories

The plotline of the movie Total Recall involved having memories implanted in your brain instead of taking expensive vacations to places like Hawaii or Mars (for a fraction of the cost). Although we aren’t there yet, there have been some exciting and interesting developments in memory encoding.

Dr. Rob Hampson’s team was able to show that they could train rats on a learning task and then take that hippocampal “firing pattern” and TRANSFER it to naive rats, who then showed enhanced performance on the task. This work and other explorations into memory transfer and memory encoding were funded by DARPA in the REMIND and RAM programs. Those efforts have since turned into more practical applications, where individuals with brain injuries, like TBI, can have their memory systems “boosted” during encoding events, giving their damaged memory systems a well-timed jolt. At present at least two companies are developing solutions to the memory encoding problem, with likely more on the way.

We are probably a few decades off from implanted or uploaded memories and experiences, however we are not too far off from memory prosthetic devices that support memory encoding. It’s likely that we will first have to figure out how to download human memories before we can start sharing them, vicariously or otherwise, with our friends.