In a discovery which could have far reaching consequences in not-distant-future, researchers have been able to wipe out a single specific memory from brains of rats using a drug, leaving all other recollections intact.
The study adds to the understanding of how memories are made and altered in the brain, and could help to relieve sufferers of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder of the fearful memories that disrupt their lives. The results are published in Nature Neuroscience.
The brain, the study says, secures memories by transferring them from short-term to long-term storage, through a process called reconsolidation. It has been shown before that this process can be interrupted with drugs.
But Joseph LeDoux of the Centre for Neural Science at New York University and his colleagues wanted to know how specific this interference was â€” could the transfer of one specific memory be meddled with without affecting others?
The researchers trained rats to fear two different musical tones, by playing them at the same time as giving them an electric shock. Then, they gave half the rats a drug known to cause limited amnesia (which is not approved for people).
When they tested the rats with both tones a day later, untreated animals were still fearful of both sounds, as if they expected a shock. But those treated with the drug were no longer afraid of the tone. The process of re-arousing the rats’ memory of being shocked with the one tone while they were drugged had wiped out that memory completely.
The researchers said the fearful memory is actually deleted, rather than simply breaking the link between the memory and a fearful response.
Source:The Times Of India