Hang on to those memories

Published 10:38 am Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Last summer, researchers at MIT figured out a way to make mice think it had mated with another mouse. It didn’t happen — the memory, that is — because it was false.

Neuroscientist Steve Ramirez told The Washington Post last summer that he and fellow experimenters had tagged a mouse’s brain cells with a specific memory and then played with the result a bit to make the rodent think something had happened when it didn’t.

The purpose for humans? Who knows at this point. They told the “Wash-post” that, someday, it could treat some emotional problems for you and me, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Whoopee! Most of the history of some of my favorite sports teams can be washed away with the help of a scalpel.

I hope I don’t live long enough to see this macabre version of “Total Recall”. Life might be difficult, but I’d rather deal with it the natural way.

Memories aren’t all bad. Especially when you can relive some of them.

This past weekend, I had the joy of spending time with a few of my second cousins, who are the same age I was when life’s greatest joy was playing outside and Nerf football. Yes, folks. Give me a decent-sized back or front yard, a Nerf ball, some similarly-sized playmates and there was no NFL record I couldn’t break — in my mind! No researcher is getting that memory.

If a mouse ever gets that memory, that little varmint will no doubt remember how free I felt from the problems of the world. The seemingly eternal gridlock in the nation’s Beltway? Meh. The government bodies locally and in states that struggle to find where taxpayer money went? Ha! What the mouse will know is that you always do the play-action fake to an invisible running back. That way, its little cousin, as mine did this past weekend, will imitate the maneuver and throw the ball well enough to keep me from running so far up to catch it.

Also, the mouse should remember having a sore right arm and wrist from not having chucked so much as a Nerf ball in years. It’s ok, though. My little cousin’s father isn’t around much anymore. Might as well teach him a few things while I have a chance.

Ramirez said he wants to implant pleasurable memories in a mouse, sort of for his “next trick”, such as thoughts of rodents of the opposite sex. We know this sort of memory goes right along with nature. Why? Because as John Ritter’s character said in the 1989 comedy “Skin Deep”, we know that mice are not monogamous. If they were, Ritter said, they’d be monoga-mice.