Essentially it involves mapping a mouse's brain -- identifying the cells that are activated by certain activities or locations -- then manipulating those particular cells while they're sleeping using an electrode to link them to a reward signal whenever they fire. The scientists were able to engineer positive associations with particular places so successfully, that when the mice awoke, they headed straight toward the locations that were linked to the reward signal.
Of course, a hell of lot more work needs to be done before anyone lets doctors manipulate individual memory associations like this in humans. Memory is so inextricably linked to our understanding of ourselves and the world, even the slightest screw-up could have devastating consequences. But then again, once it's made available, who wouldn't be tempted to risk a little bit in exchange for peace of mind and oblivious nirvana?
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