Personality and Authenticity in Light of the Memory-Modifying Potential of Optogenetics

American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 12 (1):3-21 (2021)
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There has been a growing interest in research concerning memory modification technologies (MMTs) in recent years. Neuroscientists and psychologists are beginning to explore the prospect of controllable and intentional modification of human memory. One of the technologies with the greatest potential to this end is optogenetics—an invasive neuromodulation technique involving the use of light to control the activity of individual brain cells. It has recently shown the potential to modify specific long-term memories in animal models in ways not yet possible with other MMTs. As the therapeutic potential of optogenetics has already prompted approval of the first human trials, it is especially important and timely to consider the opportunities and dangers this technology may entail. In this article, we focus on possible consequences of optogenetics as an MMT by analyzing fundamental threats potentially associated with memory modifications: the potential disruption of personality and authenticity.

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Przemysław Zawadzki
Jagiellonian University

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