Skip to comments.Fear memories erased without drugs: A temporal twist to a therapeutic technique could...
Posted on 12/10/2009 12:56:15 AM PST by neverdem
A temporal twist to a therapeutic technique could block old terrors.
Fearful memories can be wiped out for at least a year using a drug-free technique, according to a study done in the United States.
The technique exploits the way that human brains store and recall memories. When a long-term memory is recalled, it goes through a brief period of vulnerability, after which it must be stored anew to be remembered again. While the memory is in its fragile state, it can be modified or disrupted.
Studies in animals1 have used drugs to interfere with this reconsolidation process, stirring hope for therapies to blunt the haunting memories associated with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. But although these experiments have helped to understand reconsolidation, most of the drugs used are toxic to humans. A study done earlier this year in humans used a drug that's used to treat high blood pressure, called propranolol, but the treatment does not work for everyone2.
Now, psychologist Elizabeth Phelps and her colleagues at New York University have developed a way to interfere with fear memories in humans using a behavioural technique, and the results last for at least a year. The results are published in Nature3.
"We took advantage of a long history of research in animal models that tells us about this process," says Phelps. "Now we can do interventions in humans in a way that's more sophisticated, and possibly take it to the clinic."
Timing is everything
Humans struggling with horrific memories are often treated with a psychotherapeutic technique called extinction therapy, in which the patient is repeatedly exposed to whatever conjures up the memory such as snakes or a gunshot and gradually learns that the stimulus is safe. But while getting back on the horse has some success, the...
(Excerpt) Read more at nature.com ...
Nope. Sorry. My memories are me.
Yes, I have bad memories of war. Yes, they did cause problems, but I still value even the bad memories.
Richard Bandler and John Grinder figured this out in the 1970s as they developed Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).
It sounds the exposure therapy discussed on this thread refined with respect to time in a reconsolidation window.