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Bad memories fade with a short jolt

Research illustrates vulnerability of brain’s information storage

By
5:35pm, December 23, 2013

An electrical shock to the brain can muddle a nasty memory. Precisely timed electroconvulsive therapy, a last-ditch treatment for severe depression, interferes with a person’s ability to remember a recently learned story, scientists report December 22 in Nature Neuroscience.

The ECT results are the latest to highlight that memories are fluid, susceptible to manipulation and even destruction. Scientists hope to ease the mental burden of diseases such as anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder by selectively targeting traumatic memories with behavioral therapy, drugs, ECT and milder forms of brain stimulation.

“We are starting to understand the process, to some extent,” says study coauthor Marijn Kroes of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. But, he cautions, “we

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