Synaptic re-calibration

The premise of this “Connectome” book I’ve been reading is that we can get to the very essence of a person by mapping the specific way their neurons connect within their brain. Neurons connect with each other, as you probably know, via points called synapses. At a synapse, one neuron fires a blast of chemicals (neurotransmitters) to a receiving neuron. If the second neuron gets enough of these sorts of signals it will fire an electrical signal and send its own signals to other neurons down the line. Thus, “Connectome” argues, if we can map out all these synaptic connection points we can basically map out a personality. (There’s more to it than that but that’s the big picture.)

This opens up an interesting sci-fi concept. Could we get to a point where we could perform a kind of synaptic re-calibration – going into the brain and strengthening or removing synaptic connections to create more desirable personalities? Perhaps this would be done under court order – pedophiles would be calibrated to lose their dark urges, for example. Or perhaps we could chose to do so – introverts could become less shy.

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