For behind the scenes pictures, stories and special contests, follow us on Facebook!
Subscribe:

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 ]








  • Tim

    It's been a long time fantasy of psychiatrists to maniplate thought and control people. Their current use of drugs include side effects such as suicide and homicide. Just take alook at every random shooting in your local Mall, college, high school, post office, etc. All those shooters were on psychiatric drugs. This latest round of BS research will kill even more people.

  • mcman

    Drugs don't remove bad memories. I can certainly tell you that some people's lives are forever altered due to traumatic stuff that's planted in their subconscious. I think this is a good thing that would benefit many. Imagine if you could go back in a persons memory right before they started their road to depression and remove the trigger such as a rape or beatings from a parent. You could in effect stop cycles of abuse in generations of families for example. There are so many other things I can think of that this kind of thing would benefit.

  • Jenna

    Although I admit the technology is impressive, it's not something I would want. I need my memories to remind me of the stupid sh!t I did so as not to repeat it in the future. I can see where some would prefer to have their memories wiped clean so that they can live productive lives again and not be fettered by depression. But should they ever find out later about something they were involved in, the same reaction is going to happen as it did before. The answer isn't erasing history… it's learning from it and to keep going.

  • Pietje666

    @mcman
    removing memories is never a good idea.
    Murders can go free cause nobody remembered that they murdered someone
    people who inflict mental damage to another should be punished for doing it

  • T

    this reminds me immediately of the movie eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. who knew that could ever be possible?

  • T

    this reminds me immediately of the movie eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. who knew that could ever be possible?

  • Mike

    Hey look everyone! A Scientologist!

  • Mike

    “The answer isn't erasing history… it's learning from it and to keep going.”

    So if a child is raped you just say to them “well, hope you learned your lesson!”

    I guess that's pretty easy to say if you've never had a truly traumatic experience.

  • Mike

    Hey look everyone! A Scientologist!

  • Mike

    “The answer isn't erasing history… it's learning from it and to keep going.”

    So if a child is raped you just say to them “well, hope you learned your lesson!”

    I guess that's pretty easy to say if you've never had a truly traumatic experience.