A blankout or time skip is a brief episode of short-term memory loss that has been known to occur with individuals who have a neural colloid implant. First recorded in early 2049, blankouts tend to last only short periods of time and do not impact speech or functioning, leaving those affected in a disoriented state when the blankout passes as they are suddenly unable to recall their most recent actions. The effect has been commonly described as “skipping ahead in time.”
Early research into the underlying cause of blankouts was focused on a possible link with cases of cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD), which can briefly block the flow of blood in the brain and cause memory loss. In October 2049, a research group funded by the BodySafe Foundation and the Open G6 Initiative linked blankouts to a neurostimulation “misfire” caused by anti-anxiety colloids.
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Signs and symptoms
A blankout is identified by its main symptom, which is the brief and temporary inability to form new memories. People experiencing a blankout do not appear disoriented or confused until after it passes, when they are suddenly unable to remember the moments that were blanked out. Once a blankout has passed, people can once again form new memories and there are no further ill effects. Increased public awareness and anticipation of blankouts has led to accounts of people succeeding in actively recalling blanked events with a certain degree of focus. 
While a blankout is considered harmless, they can cause emotional distress and have resulted in accidents and physical injuries, which generally occur when someone switches physical activities and then loses the memories of doing so. Examples include people thrown from their vehicles, falling down stairs or tripping over inclines, and dropping what they’re suddenly carrying. Media reports of such incidents have led to people “bracing” for possible blankouts.
One of the most notable incidents caused by a blankout involved the near crash of a private plane in Indiana, United States (US) on July 29th 2049. The plane was coming into South Bend International Airport when the pilot, Doug Kieselbach, reportedly blanked out at an altitude of approximately 80 metres and “jumped ahead” to the moment he was touching down. Kieselbach “saw the ground rushing up in an instant” and pulled back on the throttle out of shock, nearly stalling out the plane before he recovered and made a successful landing on his second approach. The publicity surrounding Kieselbach’s subsequent review by a civil aviation board is credited with blankouts receiving more attention from the medical community. 
There are currently no diagnostic criteria for blankouts. Most verified accounts of blankouts are based on the testimonies of those affected and accompanying witness reports. The condition was initially described as acute transient global amnesia (TGA), though this description has fallen out of favour. While TGA and blankouts both deal with disruptions of short-term memory, an episode of TGA generally lasts between two to eight hours whereas a blankout passes within minutes of its onset. Additionally, TGA usually occurs in people between the ages of 50 and 70 whereas blankouts appear to affect all ages. 
There have been instances of individuals experiencing a blankout while one of their neural colloids was being pinged for a live montage. Analysis of these montages have shown no discernible abnormality or seizure activity that could account for a blankout.
Blankouts have proven difficult to study because they occur unpredictably and last only seconds or minutes at a time. On October 6th 2049, the BodySafe Foundation announced the results of a demographic survey, which indicated that the majority of reported blankouts have occurred with individuals who had an anti-anxiety colloid implanted in or after January 2049.
An early hypothesis related blankouts to some kind of blockage or other abnormality with the flow of blood in the brain. This hypothesis was linked to the rise in cases of cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD), which was first detected by G6 in 2047. CSVD has been known to briefly block the flow of blood to specific parts of the brain and cause memory loss. Other working theories included an epileptic event, a mass psychogenic illness, and an early onset of the CMD pandemic’s second wave.
Authorities and human rights activists had expressed concerns that blankouts could be a new type of brainjacking, making people perform actions against their will and then “deleting” the memories of those actions. These concerns had been disputed by researchers, as colloid-enabled neurotechnology is not capable of forcing people into complex actions or removing memories, and there have been no witness reports of people doing anything illegal or out of character during blankouts. 
On October 10th 2049, a research group funded by the BodySafe Foundation and the Open G6 Initiative published early results of a massive study into the neurological causes of blankouts. The group’s findings indicate that blankouts are the result of a neurostimulation “misfire” caused by anti-anxiety colloids that were implanted on or after January 11th 2049. On that day, Endoptic rolled out an update to the pattern recognition algorithms used by anti-anxiety colloids to identify and suppress the neural pathways associated with anxiety responses. This inadvertently resulted in the misidentification and suppression of specific neuronal effects of norepinephrine, which is crucial to the formation of memories.
When announcing the group’s findings, Kelly Rose stressed that they remain subject to peer review, but expressed confidence that the study would “allay fears of direct mind control through colloids, which obscure the technology’s very real potential for undue influence and behavioural modification.”
- Klausner, L; Brooks-Planck, M; Nija, B et al. (August 2049). “Psychopathological factors, memory disorder, and blankouts.” Journal of Psychiatry. ↩
- Broker, J. (July 2049). “Pilot involved in Indiana near crash claims blankout, disputed by state aviation board.” The Indianapolis Star. ↩
- Chant, E; Cowan, J. (June 2049). “Etiology of blankouts as different from transient global amnesia.” European Journal of Emergency Medicine. ↩
- Welke, A. (September 2049). “Drop those tin foil hats, we are not being controlled through our colloids.” CNBC. ↩