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There are clearly spells for manipulating memory.

Some, can give you new implanted memory (e.g. Hermione giving her parents new life with no daughter, when she Witness-Protection-Style moved them away during the Trio's search for Horcruxes).

If so, why does there seem to be no spell to teach people useful stuff? E.g. "eat this magical tablet and know all about Goblin Rebellions"... "cast this charm and the target will know how to apparate"... "The spell for increasing your skill to correctly brew potion XYZ".

  • 4
    Wouldn't that be a fairly destructive plot device? "Eat this and learn how to kill Voldemort" (obviously I exaggerate for effect). – John Rennie Dec 20 '13 at 9:22
  • @JohnRennie - I'm interested in in-universe answers, mostly. Yes, "this would make the book less interesting" is an obvious guess I agree with :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 20 '13 at 12:59
  • My best guess (but no canon to back it up) is that self-referential spells and/or Meta-magic spells aren't part of the universe. I.e., there are no spells that boost your other spells, nor upgrade other spell effects, no work on the spell itself (i.e. logic loop in a spell.) That being said, Felix can certainly upgrade your personal abilities for a period, so I could easily see some kind of 'Brain Juice' potion that basically increases your brain function and learning ability... Of course, Out of Universe... It would eliminate most the point of Hogwarts :) – K-H-W Dec 20 '13 at 23:51
  • @KHW Suddenly knowing how to do stuff doesn't mean you'll use the right thing at the right time. I'd say the focus of Hogwarts would just shift slightly. It's like the difference between knowledge and wisdom. – Izkata Dec 20 '13 at 23:59
  • We know during the OWL test that methods were employed to prevent cheating. Perhaps any learning charm would be seen as cheating and defeated. – Zoredache Dec 22 '13 at 19:47
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I have several explanations:

No memory creation

I'd go as far as to say there is no canon spell to create memories. Yes, Hermione sent her parents away and made them believe they did not have a daughter - but this could potentially be accomplished with only (temporarily) removing memories.

Information vs Knowledge

A different explanation could be, that it would theoretically be possible to store some information in someones brain using a spell (or maybe potion), but that this would not mean that the person thus affected could also actively access that information.

In the real-world there have been experiments with teaching people in their sleep - which, as far as I can remember, basically just resulted in storing actual sentences/fragments in the sleeping persons mind without giving this person proper knowledge of their contents.

For example, if the person was taught "The Nile is the longest river in the world" that person would be able to repeat that fragment, but would be unable to answer the question "What is the longest river in the world?"

Spell duration

As far as I can tell almost any spell in the Potterverse has a limited duration, and the few spells that don't are mostly very rare, powerful and/or difficult to learn and cast (e.g. the forever burning branch which Hagrid offers as to the Giants a gift from Dumbledore ).

It could be that imprinting memories is possible, but using this trick as a learning highway is not feasible because the memories will fade after some time, leaving you with nothing.

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Implanting false memories is pretty different from implanting study material in the brain.

First off, not all students are as accomplished at Hermione. She was a brilliant student, and that's why she was able to pull off that spell correctly.

Second, the exam halls will definitely be enchanted to sense any memory boosting, or memory implanting spells and notify the authorities of cheating.

Moreover there's no in-universe mention of such specific memory manipulations. Most just involve making the target forget memories. There might be magical potions to boost memory just like the muggle-world counterparts.

Potions are more targeted at manipulating what's already there, rather than implanting things. e.g. - Amortentia just stimulates the attraction/love centres of the brain causing a person to fall in love. It doesn't change the person, it doesn't change the person's perspective whatsoever. It just causes attraction.

So all in all, neither spells nor potions can be made to create or implant specific memories.

  • "neither spells nor potions can be made to create or implant specific memories" Voldemort implanted the memory of the murder on the Riddle family in Morfin and the memory of the murder on Hepzibah Smith in her house-elf Hokey. – 11684 Aug 15 '18 at 23:18

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