As the title says, Is it possible to map the firing of neurons in the human brain so as to stimulate artificial memories to the amnesiac person?

This is based on this similar question; Is it possible to map the firing of neurons in the human brain so as to stimulate artificial memories in someone else?

Those answers basically say it is impossible to send the pattern to another person because they have different brain patterns, but what about sending it to the same person that lost his memory?

its not necessary using today's technology, but at least achievable in the future or might be theoretically possible.

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    $\begingroup$ I may become possible once we understand how memories are stored in the brain. For the moment we don't, so that we have no idea what to save and restore. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 16, 2019 at 4:48
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    $\begingroup$ The answer to this essentially comes down to the tech level - current day tech: no; future - at some point probably yes. If you can clarify what kind of tech/science level answer you want, it should be possible to write an answer that isn't 'that depends' $\endgroup$
    – Nicolai
    Nov 16, 2019 at 10:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Nicolai the tech level is either going to be "understands memory formation and retrieval and can map and stimulate firing of individual neurons" and therefore the answer will be "yes", or "can't do those things" and the answer will be "no". $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2019 at 11:03

2 Answers 2


Depends; Probably Yes

Memory is largely still a mystery to us. Current theories vary widely, and all lack sufficient scientific backing. I will focus on the theory of memory which I, personally, think is most likely to be true - although, again, memory is mostly a mystery to us.

The theory I like the most is, basically, that thoughts are nothing more than patterns of neurons in our brains. Furthermore, a "memory" is simply that pattern of neurons firing, and "recalling" a memory would be that pattern firing again in your brain. As such memory is not a "thing" that is stored, which means it cannot be read or copied after the fact; the only way to "record" a memory would be to either (a) capture the thought as it occurs, or (b) have someone "recall" a memory, and capture that neural pathway as it happens.

In a futuristic setting, maybe we have learned more about how these neurons fire with one another, and can then create these memories on a computer, or something of the like.

Neither your question nor this answer address how this will occur. You reference a similar question where the answers say transmitting memories to others is "basically not possible" because of different brain structures. I have a slight disagreement with that - in a futuristic sci-fi setting, will we be able to reconfigure brain patterns? It's not so far-fetched as to be "impossible", and depending on how practical you want your story to be, I think this can be hand-waived some. If we can stimulate neurons to move around inside a brain, then we can place neurons in the right order so as to have - and fire - the memory pattern. Or maybe you scramble their brain to the point they can't function and fall over dead.

That said, some of the (well documented) cases of dreams or memories which occur from organ donors to their recipients tells me that how our bodies interact with the world, our organs, feelings, etc, allows for some memories to move if brains are similar enough. While brains may be 99% unique, if there is 1% in common, then some memories, feelings, etc, can be shared. Theoretically

If someone with amnesia - likely from a brain trauma - can't recall certain memories, that means their neurons have shifted around enough that the neural pathways aren't firing. Their brain is likely similar enough to be reminded / reordered to then recall some memories.

Given that people with amnesia do often regain their memory through natural means, I don't see any reason why a futuristic technology could exist to either aid in this recovery, or simply perform the recovery function through some invasive means.

In any case, the question becomes can the neurons be ordered in such a way that this specific pathway [memory] can be triggered? If so, then the answer is yes. Given that (a) this is the theory of memory that makes the most sense to me, albeit lacking scientifically, and (b) the amnesiac's brain is likely close enough for those patterns to be available, then I would say probably yes.


Instead of the memory, you could reply the exact sensations the person felt at the time.

Memories are weird. They are not sensations. They are something that long lived cells in the brain can do. Impulses in sensory and motor nerves are much less weird.

In the story Isis and Augi, Augi is an artificial intelligence worn by Isis, a woman. Augi can detect all impulses moving through Isis' nerves, and it can affect and produce those impulses. In this section, Isis learns that Augi keeps a record of all of those impulses, and can play them back.


Trotting towards the gate, Isis thought about the man who had sat with the council. “I feel like I have seen him before,” she said out loud. “The new man, two back from Gradley.”

“You have seen him,” said Augi.

“Where?” asked Isis. She asked even though she knew it was pointless to ask. Augi was terrible with names and even worse with time.

“I do not know how to tell you,” said Augi. “I could show you,”

Isis raised an eyebrow. “Show me how?” she asked. “Not a drawing, I hope.”

“Not a drawing,” said Augi. “I will show you now. Be ready.”

And she was on Valusia. Everyone in town came out at night after the heat of the day. She pushed through the crowded street, feeling sweat in the small of her back, strange spices lingering on her tongue. Her clothes did not fit: sheath pants, the fashion in the capitol – stolen in haste, and too tight. Hair fell into her eyes and she pushed it back – it had been longer then. She shouldered her way through the crowd, looking over her shoulder. What was she looking for? Why did she feel so sick? She remembered – that animal they kept had bitten her. Augi was keeping her going but the nausea chemoreceptors were deep and out of Augi’s reach. Perfume from the flower trees lining the road was cut by the bitter smell of burnt food coming from a cart. A group of teenagers brushed by her, making her stumble. She was a passenger in her own body, feeling herself move her own legs, turn her head. A woman shouted ahead of her.

And she was back in the colony. Isis looked around, dazed. “I used to have a butt,” she muttered. “Are we working out too much?”

“Did you see him?” asked Augi

Isis took a deep breath. “That was two years ago!” exclaimed Isis, collecting her composure. “Augi!” She paced around in agitation. “You can do that? Play it back? I didn’t know you kept things! Why did you keep that?”

“I keep all of that,” said Augi carefully.

Of course this is not possible with current tech. But a nerve impulse is electrical, and so generates a magnetic field which should be perceptible and measurable at a distance. If the measuring device were accurate the functions of each individual nerve could be recorded. By applying an external magnetic field one can induce an electrical impulse. If magnetic fields could be applied with precision it would be possible to recreate in the nerves the same impulses recorded at an earlier date. That is what Augi did with Isis, so she could relive that minute and learn what she needed to learn.


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