Skip to comments.Brain Power - Brain Researchers Open Door to Editing Memory
Posted on 07/28/2009 6:02:19 PM PDT by neverdem
Suppose scientists could erase certain memories by tinkering with a single substance in the brain. Could make you forget a chronic fear, a traumatic loss, even a bad habit.
Researchers in Brooklyn have recently accomplished comparable feats, with a single dose of an experimental drug delivered to areas of the brain critical for holding specific types of memory, like emotional associations, spatial knowledge or motor skills.
The drug blocks the activity of a substance that the brain apparently needs to retain much of its learned information. And if enhanced, the substance could help ward off dementias and other memory problems.
So far, the research has been done only on animals. But scientists say this memory system is likely to work almost identically in people.
The discovery of such an apparently critical memory molecule, and its many potential uses, are part of the buzz surrounding a field that, in just the past few years, has made the seemingly impossible suddenly probable: neuroscience, the study of the brain.
If this molecule is as important as it appears to be, you can see the possible implications, said Dr. Todd C. Sacktor, a 52-year-old neuroscientist who leads the team at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center, in Brooklyn, which demonstrated its effect on memory. For trauma. For addiction, which is a learned behavior. Ultimately for improving memory and learning.
Artists and writers have led the exploration of identity, consciousness and memory for centuries. Yet even as scientists sent men to the moon and spacecraft to Saturn and submarines to the ocean floor, the instrument responsible for such feats, the human mind, remained almost entirely dark, a vast and mostly uncharted universe as mysterious as the New World was to explorers of the past.
Now neuroscience, a field that barely existed a generation ago, is racing...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Very handy for politicians. Sort of like the neuralizer in Men In Black, if you inconveniently remember receiving a check from a politician, or think you saw one doing something skeevy, a shot in the right brain area can keep that congressional seat safe!
60 Minutes did a great piece on this awhile back and it was fascinating. I’m sure you could look it up. It was about rats learning to swim to a little dock inside a huge tank. They say they can use it for people who’ve undergone traumatic events and suffer from PTSD. Apparently, when something horrible happens to an individual, certain chemicals are released that essentially “lock” in the memory. It’s almost as if the memory is “burned” into the brain by the chemicals. The drug gets rid of that. The person remembers things but the intensity is not there - so the emotions, the pain, etc. are left behind.
Some people are against this but I am interested in the science and the potential benefits of those who suffer. I have an uncle who has PTSD from Viet Nam. He also was disabled from exposure to Agent Orange.
Politicians could use this on themselves.
Obama for example could forget where he was really born and who is father was and believe he really is eligible.
Clinton could believe he really didn’t have sex with that woman.
This would be a good thing.
“Its almost as if the memory is burned into the brain by the chemicals.”
If they are Viet Nam memories the proper term is not “burned” but rather “Seared, seared into my memory”.
Hope your uncle is OK. MAPS foundation is working on using psychoactives with PTSD.
It turns out the common beta blocker has the effect of softening the effects of traumatic memories. I think it was a researcher at UC Irvine by the name of Cahill who did the work.
Resistance is futile
Well, I used terminology to explain that the memories are more intense and involve emotions and other biochemical reactions when they are reignited.
My uncle is pretty well considering. He’s in his 70s now and a real trooper. Was a Green Beret and a tough guy. I don’t think he takes anything for the psychological stuff but my aunt sleeps in another room since a few years back he literally started strangling her in his sleep. Very scary. He had been having violent dreams for years but that was the end of that.
If you are a Nam vet, I salute you and thank you for your service.