Selective memory

By | November 11, 2008

Altering a protein in the brain of mice can wipe out specific memories as they are recalled

As much as you might want to wipe Uncle Frank’s tasteless joke out of your mind but still remember the flavor of Aunt Fran’s pie, memory researchers have always said “fuhgedabboudit!” Now, a genetically engineered mouse suggests it may be possible to erase certain unwanted memories.

Scientists from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and the East China Normal University in Shanghai selectively removed a shocking memory from a mouse’s brain, the team reports in the Oct. 23 Neuron.

Insight from such experiments may one day lead to therapies that can erase traumatic memories for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or wipe clean drug-associated cues that lead addicts to relapse.

“We should never think of memories as being fixed,” says Howard Eichenbaum, a neuroscientist at Boston University. “They are constantly being renovated and restructured.”

Careful questioning can alter an eyewitness’s recollection during testimony, Eichenbaum says. The new research, which he calls “terrific” and “interesting,” shows that careful use of molecular tools can also manipulate memories. … – scinews

What would you erase? I can think of a few things: Seeing the girl dead in my car accident, flubbing my lines in a school play, breakups, etc.

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