Altering a protein in the brain of mice can wipe out specific memories as they are recalled
As much as you might want to wipe Uncle Frank’s tasteless joke out of your mind but still remember the flavor of Aunt Fran’s pie, memory researchers have always said “fuhgedabboudit!” Now, a genetically engineered mouse suggests it may be possible to erase certain unwanted memories.
Scientists from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and the EastChinaNormalUniversity in Shanghai selectively removed a shocking memory from a mouse’s brain, the team reports in the Oct. 23 Neuron.
Insight from such experiments may one day lead to therapies that can erase traumatic memories for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or wipe clean drug-associated cues that lead addicts to relapse.
“We should never think of memories as being fixed,” says Howard Eichenbaum, a neuroscientist at BostonUniversity. “They are constantly being renovated and restructured.”