Eat Brain for Memories

"I'm gonna eat your brains and gain your knowledge!"

In fiction, some creatures are somehow able to obtain the memories of other beings by consuming their grey matter. The possibility of this in real life is unlikely, most evidence suggests that memories are "stored" in the connections between brain cells, which would be destroyed in the process of eating a brain usually. Though there are some hypotheses that memory is at least partially stored as chemicals inside the cells, which might survive something's digestive processes.

Sub-Trope of Cannibalism Superpower and Brain Food. Sister Trope of Genetic Memory, where the memories are instead recorded in the genes. Compare You Are Who You Eat.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga  

  • Yoma in Claymore normally ate human entrails but could also devour a person's brain to absorb their memories and impersonate them. The impersonation was so convincing that a number of ignorant villagers believe that Yoma are contagious and cast out certain characters who had close contact with them.

     Comic Books  

  • There's at least one version of the DC Comics Super Villain Grodd who did this. In The Black Ring, Lex Luthor uses it against him by allowing him to capture and eat an underling who had been misinformed about Luthor's plans.
  • In ROM: Space Knight, the female Dire Wraiths could do this via a long prehensile tongue with a sharp spike at the end.

     Film  

  • The Thing (1982). A Thing can do this when it consumes a human being and converts it into a Thing. The new Thing has all of the memories of the original person.
  • The Brain Bug in Starship Troopers was believed to do this. (We know it ate brains, but the reason was only theorized.)
  • In Warm Bodies, zombies hunger for brains because they experience the memories when they do, which is the closest they can come now to feeling alive. Besides feeling love, that is.

     Literature  

  • Dean Koontz's Phantoms. A gigantic protoplasmic monster consumes human beings and absorbs their memories from their brains. It's theorized by Dr. Flyte and the rest of the protagonists that the reason the Ancient Enemy believes itself to be Devil himself (and thus goes through so many hoops to obtain a "disciple" in Flyte and act so scary) is because of the many humans it absorbed that in their final moments believed it to be something unholy, so it pretty much started to believe its own hype.
  • Piers Anthony's Firefly. A small protoplasmic monster dissolves and absorbs the interior of people's bodies. It gains their memories and personality from their brains.
  • In The Runelords, Reavers share a racial memory by eating the brains of their dead. At one point, a child eats a Reaver brain and gains the same benefit, providing an insight into their planning and purpose.
  • Spots the Space Marine: Fiddlers (humanity's allies) absorb the memories of their predecessors by consuming them alive. The Crabs (enemies) do the same and attempt to do so to captured human marines, though the Fiddler liason who reveals this bit of information believes that their biology is incompatible.
  • In Book of the New Sun, eating an alzabo gland extract gives its consumer memories of whoever was eaten by that alzabo.
  • The Star Trek original series novel Dreams of the Raven has the titular Raven aliens able to gain access to their victims' knowledge and memories (to the point of being able to vocally imitate them perfectly) by eating their brains.
  • In Skulduggery Pleasant, Valkyrie once interrogated a prisoner by making him think that her friend Tanith Low had the power to do this, and would do so if he refused to talk.
  • In the Doctor Who Missing Adventures novel Venusian Lullaby, the native intelligent race of Venus can do this, and sharing out the deceased's brain is an important part of their funeral customs.
  • Ghouls have this ability in The Throne Of Bones, often to the point of forgetting their real identities in favor of that of the person consumed. Eating other parts of a corpse has a lesser effect.

     Live Action TV  

  • Liv of iZombie is a zombie who stays civilized and intelligent by eating the brains of corpses that come into the morgue where she works. She also helps the police by eating murder victims and picking up bits of their memories and skills. Hilarity Ensues as she picks of their quirks and neuroses along the way.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Dungeons & Dragons has the Illithids (aka Mind Flayers) who do this. They gain memories, skills, and even class levels by doing so.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • Some Space Marines can do this, depending on canon. A fanfic character points out that this faculty isn't really very useful since Space Marines mostly fight Chaos and few Astartes are insane enough to willingly ingest Chaos tainted flesh.
    • Tyranids, most infamously lictors ( Tyranid Stealthy Colossus scouts) but anything with feeder tendrils might show this ability. This is pretty much their only way of gathering intel, as they never talk with their food.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse has the Eaters of the Dead, a small cult of Silent Strider werewolves who've discovered a magic rite that lets them absorb memories and skills from other supernaturals by eating their brains. Habitual use of this rite has turned them into paranoid, blood-crazed serial killers, and quite wrecked their sanity. Their original goals were to use the rite temporarily until they found a better way to permanently regain all that their tribe had lost. But at this point they just wander around looking for other supernatural creatures to murder — the older, the better.
  • In Myriad Song the carnivorous plants known as Morphir can be fed the brains of sentient animals and they will grow buds that when smoked as a drug cause hallucinations of the brain-donor's memories. The brains of sapient animals (i.e. humans) produce particularly strong buds, and gradually make the Morphir plant itself intelligent, and mobile, and playable as characters. Not all Morphir characters can suck out people's brains and access their memories, but it's not hard for them to take the abilities as Gifts.
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones Nymphs, the insect analogues used for environmental maintenance on terraformed Mars and Venus, were designed to gain memories from eating each others' brains to exchange information between colonies and preserve maintenance directives over many generations. 40 years ago some scientist thought it would be a good idea to create a sapient Nymph. It ate him.

     Video Games  

  • In Kingdom of Loathing, the Zombie Master Special Challenge Path uses "Hunter brains" to level up their Skill Trees. The use message for "Good brain" is "Oh, man is that Gravity's Rainbow? Oh, just, like, the first third. Still, though!" Decent brains give the urge to go watch TV (but not reality TV, so it's OK), and Crappy brains "...smell of illiteracy and superstition."
  • [PROTOTYPE] has Mercer and Heller do eat entire people, including their brains, in order to assimilate their memories in order to understand a Web Of Intrigue about a grand conspiracy behind Gentek.
  • In Sword of the Stars Hiver princesses and queens can eat the brains of their deceased subjects and imprint them on new embryos. Allowing a form of reincarnation, with the possibility of moving up in the Hive Caste System.
  • It's implied that the Combine Advisors of Half-Life 2 can do this with their 'tongue' appendage, burrowing into the victim's neck to do...something with their brains. Human brains are far too small to sustain an Advisor, which is the size of a bus, and it's often suspected that what they're really after is information. If true, this makes Eli Vance's death from being brainsucked by an advisor all the more harrowing...now they know everything.

     Webcomics  

  • In Schlock Mercenary Carbosilicate Amorphs evolved from an ancient civilization's pseudo-organic memory storage devices, they've developed into Blob Monsters whose entire bodies are brains and they can exchange memories by breaking off bits of themselves and feeding them to other Amorphs. And as cannibalism was the only way for tribal Amorphs to kill one another without plasguns wars often brought tribes closer together.

     Western Animation  

  • The Simpsons, "The Spy Who Learned Me"
    Burns: Oh pish, when I was in Africa I had my skull cracked open by cannibals and I'm still kicking.
    Smithers: Sir, that was your partner, you betrayed him to the cannibals.
    Burns: Oh right, I have his memories because I ate his brain.

Alternative Title(s): Cerebrophagic Memory, Cannibalistic Memory, Digestive Memory, Phagomemory, Omophagic Memory

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EatBrainForMemories