Drug-Free Therapy Could Erase Memories

By | April 6, 2009

spotless mindA new drug-free therapy wipes away fearful memories in rats and humans. The simple treatment might eventually help patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, say researchers.

The new procedure relies on a quirky property of memories called reconsolidation. The process of jogging a memory – with an emotional or sensory jolt, for instance – seems to make it malleable for a few hours.

Potent drugs that block brain cells from making new proteins can erase fearful memories during this window. But these chemical are toxic, and wholesale memory erasure could do more harm than good, says Karim Nader, a neuroscientist at the McGill University in Montreal, Canada, who performed some of the drug studies.

In search of a gentler way to block fearful memories, Marie Monfils, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas in Austin, tweaked a therapy sometimes used to treat PTSD, called extinction.

Here, doctors repeatedly deliver threatening cues – gun shots, for instance – in safe environments in hopes of drowning out the fearful associations.

… “When extinction is done during reconsolidation, it probably has the same effect as drugs,” Schiller says.

… Despite proof of principle experiments in rats and humans, Monfils says researchers should proceed with caution in applying the new findings to treating PTSD or other anxiety disorders. Some people’s reconsolidation windows may be longer than others, and people respond differently to stressful situations….

via Drug-Free Therapy Could Erase Memories – ABC News.

3 thoughts on “Drug-Free Therapy Could Erase Memories

  1. Sepp

    Hmmm – whatever happened to the mental technology developed by Hubbard that does exactly that: allow for overwhelming memories to be desensitized by looking at them closely and repeatedly relating (describing) them?

    Oh – I forget – that’s not in use because it threatened the pre-eminence of psychiatry and was severely criticized in the past, to the extent of demonizing both the originator and practitioners of his tech.

  2. F Uscientology

    Go back to your E-Meter, pal. I think I hear the spaceships a-callin’ ya. Ignorant fool.

  3. Xeno Post author

    We need practical techniques for reprogramming ourselves: thoughts, memories, emotions. Serious scientists should focus on giving us practical mind-hacking options. If there is something to Hubbard’s ideas, it could be distilled and scientifically verified. Or new techniques could be developed. Whatever really works. Many people would like to cause the extinction of certain habits, and we would like to program new habits. Self-hypnosis is effective, for some things.

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