A Pill to Block out Bad Memories

Daily Mail (London), November 23, 2010 | Go to article overview

A Pill to Block out Bad Memories


Byline: From David Gardner in Los Angeles

THERE are some things everyone would rather forget - and scientists believe they may be able to help us do just that, with a pill that would block out painful memories.

In a medical breakthrough, researchers have discovered that proteins can be removed from the brain's fear centre to wipe out traumatic memories.

Their findings could be of benefit to soldiers who have experienced distressing events and victims of violence. They could even help us get over the hurt of a painful break-up.

The U.S. research has parallels to the plot of the science fiction film Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, which starred Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey.

In the 2004 film, a couple's past is wiped in a fictional procedure called 'targeted memory erasure'. For the U.S. study, scientists at Johns Hopkins University used rats to try to focus on the part of the brain that copes with fear.

They discovered a 'window of vulnerability' when unique receptor proteins are created in the brain as painful memories are made.

Because the proteins are unstable, they could be removed with drugs to eliminate the memory forever.

'When a traumatic event occurs, it creates a fearful memory that can last a lifetime and have a debilitating effect on a person's life,' said researcher Professor Richard Huganir.

He said his findings 'raise the possibility of manipulating those mechanisms with drugs to enhance behavioural therapy for such conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder'. …

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