Science and Technology
Researchers find way to erase memories from the brain
And you thought it just happens in Sci-fi movies!
Scientists have found that newly formed emotional memories can be erased from the human brain, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatments for phobias and post traumatic stress.
Researcher Thomas Agren from Uppsala University, showed that it is possible to erase newly formed emotional memories from the human brain.
“These findings may be a breakthrough in research on memory and fear. Ultimately the new findings may lead to improved treatment methods for the millions of people in the world who suffer from anxiety issues like phobias, post-traumatic stress, and panic attacks,” said Ågren, who led the study.
Pic used for representational purposes only.
When a person learns something, a lasting long-term memory is created with the aid of a process of consolidation, which is based on the formation of proteins.
As we remember something, the memory becomes unstable for a while and is then restabilized by another consolidation process.
In other words, we are not remembering what originally happened, but rather what we remembered the last time we thought about what happened.
By disrupting the reconsolidation process that follows upon remembering, we can affect the content of memory.
Researchers showed subjects a neutral picture and simultaneously administered an electric shock. In this way the picture came to elicit fear in the subjects which meant a fear memory had been formed.
In order to activate this fear memory, the picture was then shown without any accompanying shock. For one experimental group the reconsolidation process was disrupted with the aid of repeated presentations of the picture.
For a control group, the reconsolidation process was allowed to complete before the subjects were shown the same repeated presentations of the picture.
At the same time, using a MR-scanner, the researchers were able to show that the traces of that memory also disappeared from the part of the brain that normally stores fearful memories, the nuclear group of amygdala in the temporal lobe. The study was published in the journal ‘Science’.
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