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Science Thursday: Selective Memory Erasure

Science Thursday: Selective Memory Erasure

By Evan Ackerman

Even in Star Trek, erasing specific memories is a difficult, if not impossible, task. Seems like Star Trek was being a little pessimistic about the future, though, since scientists announced yesterday that they have been able to selectively target and erase a specific memory in the brain of a genetically modified mouse, without altering any other memories or harming the mouse at all.

Researchers at the Brain & Behavior Discovery Institute at the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine stimulated a protein critical to communication between brain cells just as the mouse was trying to remember something specific, and over-expressing that particular protein caused the one single memory that the mouse was remembering to disappear. For example, researchers gave a mouse a toy, then zapped its memory while the mouse was thinking about the toy. Then they gave the mouse the same toy, and the mouse was like, “hey, new toy!”

The idea is that eventually, this procedure could be used to remove incapacitating and traumatic memories from people. That would be pretty awesome, but can’t you just imagine the possibilities? Buy a video game, play it through, zap yourself, rinse, repeat. Movies with plot-twists. Ex-girlfriends. The US election. Sooo much potential here.

Human testing probably won’t happen any time soon, but researchers are already envisioning drugs that mimic this protein over-expression technique, for humans to take whenever we have an especially bad day.

VIA [ LiveScience ]