13 March 2019

From 11 to 17 March is Brain Awareness Week, which we use to draw attention to our beautiful brain and the disorders that threaten it. Under the name of Marvelous Mind, brain scientists from Groningen make the latest insights about our brains accessible to a wide audience in various ways. On Monday, March 18th, during the Brain Awareness week, this is done by the screening of the movie: ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. In this film Joel (Jim Carry) wants all memories of his ex (Kate Winslet) to be erased. An obscure company with a curious machine will help him. Along with the movie, an short introduction by a neuroscientist will be provided.

Forgetting is one of the many complaints of patients with dementia. Patients with other disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, depression, schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease often also have problems with memory. Usually we do NOT want to forget, but forgetting can be a very useful function. Just as you occasionally have to clean up your smartphone, unnecessary information in the brain needs to be cleaned up. The zip code of your previous address for example; throw it out.

At the same time there can be other things you would gladly forget, but are engraved in your memory. For example, a violent accident, the painful death of a family member, the breakup with your loved one. There are however ways in which memory loss can be summoned: a retrograde amnesia. If it is administered immediately after a bad experience, you might theoretically forget something specific. In practice, this is not applied, but in experimental settings the possibility of preventing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is being considered.

This raises the same questions and dilemmas as they appear in the movie. Do you want to erase painful memories, what are the risks, and how real is the scenario of this highly praised movie?

The movie is introduced by Prof. Iris Sommer, neuroscientist at the UMCG and author of, among other books, ‘Haperende Hersenen’ and ‘De zeven zintuigen’. She explains how memories are stored in the brain and how they fade away. She will talk about the interventions that can trigger a retrograde amnesia and after the end of the film she will discuss with you whether to reject or to embrace the possibility of “selective forgetting”…

We hope to welcome you and exchange ideas with you!

On March 18th from 19.00-21.00 h

Groninger Forum, Herenplein 73


Want to know more? Check our website https://www.rug.nl/marvelousmind

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