Imagine if you could just erase that memory of that bad car crash? Maybe it would be easier to drive down a busy street without feeling so on edge.
In a collaborative study by New York’s Columbia University and Montreal’s McGill University, researchers used stimulation to see if a memory could be erased without affecting all memories.
Marine Aplysia snails were the test subjects when the researchers stimulated two different neurons to induce both associative and non-associative memories respectively.
Associative memories are defined as those where unrelated items are learned and remembered by our brain. They help you put a name to a face, remember that green means go and the name of that scent that you just inhaled.
Non-associative memories are those where certain events will create a more subtle memory triggered by the something learned from the experience. For example, let’s say you’re involved in a bad car accident and a particular song is playing on the radio right before the collision.
Non-associative memories might cause you to be negatively triggered whenever you hear that song afterwards.
By testing the strength of the different stimulators on each neuron, researchers were able to figure out that a molecule called Protein Kinase M (PKM) was the main molecule maintaining the connection between the stimuli and the memory location.
Researchers then blocked the PKM molecule one by one and found that each memory, both associative and non-associative could be erased without affecting the other.
“Depending on how you remind the person, you might be able to erase different aspects of the memory,” Dr. Wayne Sossin from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University told CBC News.
The hope is that one day, memories linked to anxiety and PTSD could be erased using drugs without affecting other memories.
For those hoping to get a particularly painful memory erased, they’ll have to wait a while. Researchers say science is a long way away from actually using the manipulations on humans.
Article provided by The Toronto Sun