Filed Under Body Modification on 2007-07-02, 19:53
Perhaps Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind isn’t too far off. Researchers have discovered that it may be possible to selectively erase specific memories using specific drugs administered at the correct times. Two recent studies give some evidence to this effect.
One experiment was conducted with rats at New York University. Two musical tones were associated with a mild electrical shock. The rats would then hear the tone and would brace for a shock. The researchers then gave half the rats a drug, called U0126 and known to cause limited amnesia, when playing one of the musical tones. Afterwards the rats would only brace for the shock with one of the tones, instead of both.
Another study at McGill University, in Montreal, and Harvard University was performed with actual human subjects:
The researchers used propranolol, a drug normally used to treat hypertension in heart disease patients but also known to cause memory problems. They treated 19 accident or rape victims for 10 days with the drug or with dummy pills, while they asked to describe their memories of a traumatic event that happened 10 years earlier.
A week later, they found that the patients given the drug suffered fewer signs of stress such as raised heart rate when recalling their trauma.