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Mace & Crown | November 22, 2017

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Improving Human Memory with Apps and Implants

Improving Human Memory with Apps and Implants

Audra Reigle
Contributing Writer

With apps like Instagram, society has become more concerned with taking the perfect picture of that moment instead of living in that moment. Because of this, the memory of that event can be affected. A person’s ability to remember something has become diminished because people are no longer living in the moment. The military is even getting involved with medical memory technology to help those with head trauma, and memory manipulation technology is also in the works.

Social media has become a prominent part of society today. The use of social media has allowed for things like “Throwback Thursday” and “Flashback Friday,” and these throwbacks allow users to be reminded of the past, according to an article on The Atlantic. human memoryTimehop is an app developed to remind users of their posts, pictures, and/or tweets from that day a year or several years ago for the user to share with their friends. The app has fourteen million users, according to co-founder Jonathan Wegener.

However, with the rise of social media, a person may not remember things they see when they’re too busy taking pictures rather than living in the moment. A psychology professor from Fairfield University in Connecticut, Linda Henkel, took study participants on a tour of a university museum. During the study, the participants were asked to observe certain objects, and in some cases, take pictures of them. When they had to recall the objects, the participants could not remember as many visual details for the ones they took pictures of than the ones they didn’t. As a result, people end up not living in the moment, but rather living life through a camera lens.

Technology is also advancing to help those who have experienced some sort of head trauma. The US military is funding the research towards a project that will help those with memory deficits as a result of head trauma, according to a Scientific American article. The plan involves implanting electrodes into the human brain in order to improve memory by brain stimulation. Evidence shown by two teams funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency says that these implanted devices can improve memory retention. The process involves using a person’s short term memory to create the memory, and then having the person access that memory again within a specific time frame to make it a long term memory. A device could eventually be developed to assist the hippocampus, a part of the brain that helps with memory, with the creation of short term memories and the conversion of those memories into long term memories.

Memory manipulation is also something that is in the works. Fiber optic memory manipulation technology has already been developed by Steve Remirez. He says that the technology to manipulate specific human memories is inevitable, according to a Brain Blogger article. This type of technology is unexplored territory, however, and the results from what could be produced from this technology are unpredictable. Other technologies being developed are apps for mobile devices, according to an article on The Bulletin. These apps range from musical ones that help the user with singing a song, puzzles, and the creation of a storybook. The apps are geared towards older adults.

While the concept of memory manipulation is still a work in progress, society still has social media to throw them back to past events. With Facebook’s Year in Review to remind one of posts they made on that day years ago and apps like Timehop, social media makes it easy to remind users of their past. However, a failing memory is not just something that can be remedied by social media. Apps can be used on mobile devices to help their users out. If a person has experienced head trauma, devices are being developed to help users create long term memories. Ultimately, the complexity of the human memory is more or less uncharted territory, but there are devices being implemented to help those with memory deficits.