A Drug That Removes Bad Memories While You Sleep


| 4 Comments
A new Stanford study shows that bad memories could potentially be erased by taking a drug before falling asleep.  The Stanford researchers announced at the Society of Neuroscience that they are manipulating fearful memories in rats.  The idea is that this sleep based therapy can expand into curing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The researchers conditioned the mice to be afraid of the smell of jasmine by shocking them every time they sniffed it.  The next day when the scent was present, the mice became tense in anticipation of a shock.  The control group was given the extinction therapy which worked overtime, but when placed in a different environment, the fear returned.

The research group was given a drug to block the protein synthesis of the basolateral amygdala, the part of the brain that is thought to store fearful memories as they fall asleep.  When the mice woke up, they had diminished fear even when they left the cage where they developed these fears.  The results suggest that fearful memories are less likely to surface after going through therapy in conjunction with the drug.

It seems this is still in its basic stages of development.  I would still like to know how the drug targets certain memories.  Is there a possibility that an unintended memory is erased?  There are many unanswered questions here, but it is a big step in the direction towards the innovation of a potentially great drug.  There are people who are haunted by things in their past and have a hard time living with their memories of the situation.  If we can get rid of these horrid memories, we can improve the lives of millions.

4 Comments

Wow. This actually mind blowing. Its amazing for science, and could probably help certain people, but it none the less makes me very nervous. At first thought, I find this highly unethical. I understand that people would voluntarily allow their memories to be erased, but it just makes me uncomfortable about where it would branch from here. I feel that in this case, science is going to far. Even if the treatment worked perfectly, and only erased specific bad memories ( How would this happen? It's really cool to think about even though I disagree with it), where would it branch to next? I feel that if taken into the wrong hands, this discovery could become very dangerous very fast. The worse part is, if someone was abused by this discovery, they would never even know because they wouldnt miss a memory they didnt have. Not to get all conspiracy theory-y, but the world as we know it could literally be erased by a discovery like this.

This seriously reminds me of one of my favorite movies "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"

I doubt I would ever use this drug. If it weren't for the bad memories how would I appreciate the good so much?

Greatest Movie EVER

This is extremely unethical to me and makes me really uncomfortable. How can you possibly erase bad memories? I understand that sufferers of PTSD and other similar disorders might disagree with me, but what happens if all fear is wiped out of and over dose were to occur? Of if this drug just wiped out fear in general, regardless of the amount taken. Would people drive like maniacs because there would be no fear of an accident? Would people touch the stove because there would be no fear of burning yourself? Would people jump off bridges because there would be no fear of dying? Are these simple learned fears erased with this drug? If so, I believe this is extremely dangerous and highly unlikely to ever hit the market.

I think this is a really awesome concept for people who've been in war and come back traumatized by the things that they saw and experienced. Many people who enter war hoping to protect and defend the country are perfectly normal functioning men, but often have a very hard time recovering from the horrors of war once returning home. Some people are able to take the experience and gain a new sense of life, but for those whose PTSD cripples them a drug like this could really help them recover. On the other hand, I do see Quinn's points. Often time our bad memories help shape us as a person and gain important information about how our world works. 9/11 is certainly a horrifying memory for those in the country alive to experience, but that taught me at a very young age that there are bad people in the world. This drug could make people very naive because they would want to erase all the things that hurt them, when in reality it makes them who they are. If this drug could get past he developmental stage though, I feel it would extremely beneficial for veterans.

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