Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Eric Kandel on Erasing Memories

Nobel Prize-winning neurobiologist Eric Kandel, who visited the Writers Institute in 2006, is featured in a New York Times interview today.

He talks, among other things, about his childhood in Nazi-occupied Vienna and about the prospect for using new developments in neuroscience to erase unpleasant memories:

"I have no difficulty about enhancing memory. Removing memory is more complicated. If it’s to reduce the impact of a particular trauma, I have no difficulty with that, but there are other ways to deal with it — cognitive behavior therapy, exposure therapy, drugs. To go into your head and pluck out a memory of an unfortunate love experience, that’s a bad idea. You know, in the end, we are who we are. We’re all part of what we’ve experienced. Would I have liked to have had the Viennese experience removed from me? No! And it was horrible. But it shapes you."