X-Message-Number: 12646
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 22:16:12 EDT
Subject: Memory; Pessimism

Thanks to Thomas Donaldson (#12634) for his reminder that structures related 
to LTP and LTD are not the structures encoding the final memories.

>major misunderstanding which apparently exists in several recent posts
>is that LTP or LTD are themselves the forms that long term memory takes.
>The problem with this is that once rats or other animals have been
>trained up, say, on a maze, then the experience of the maze will no
>longer produce LTP or LTD in any of their neurons. No, they haven't
>forgotten; it's just that both activities pertain only to the earlier
>stages of learning. The end result consists of a modification of the
>neuron's synapses, including sometimes the growth of new synapses, and
>with this the animal will automatically behave according to its past

I would also point out--in addition to my earlier reminder that structures on 
the scale of 10 microns are enormous relative to nanotechnology--that 
clinical exeriences with various forms of amnesia mean virtually nothing. 
There is no more reason to expect amnesia to be irreversible than to expect 
"death" itself, or any other morbid process, to be irreversible; and we know 
as a matter of fact that many, many "irreversible" processes have indeed been 
reversed. It is VERY difficult (maybe even impossible) to destroy 

Yes, it is relatively easy to degrade information or make it less accessible; 
and yes, yet again, we want to reduce the burden on the future as much as 
possible. And yes also, purveying too much optimism might tend to make some 
people complacent. But the plain FACT is that the vast majority of people 
right now are NOT too optimistic--they are not nearly optimistic enough. If 
there were 1% more optimists (in our sense) in the world,  there would be 
more cryonicists by a factor of maybe 100,000! 

I forget who sometimes says this--someone who has posted here fairly 
often--but those who push pessimism remind me of his sign-off: "The floggings 
will continue until morale improves."

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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