Memories Erasable During Recollection. With Lots of Electricity.


“For decades people had thought that once a memory is wired in the brain it stays there forever,” says Karim Nader, a neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal. But Lewis’s study showed that wasn’t true: When a rat recalled a stored memory, the memory somehow became unstable again, making it vulnerable to erasure.

Nader showed that, in rats, old memories can be erased by infusing a drug into the animal’s brain as it recalls the memory. Because the drug blocked protein synthesis, this experiment was evidence that memories go through a “reconsolidation” process after being recalled, and that this process requires protein synthesis.

There are some definite therapeutic uses for this kind of technology – things like treating post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and other psychological problems.

Naturally, one can also easily imagine some fantastic dystopian usages – criminal punishment, witness protection programs, espionage and dozens of others.

Somehow I think the intelligence community is going to be following developments in this very closely…

Photo by Thomas Bresson on flickr.
By Virginia Hughes via National Geographic.

This entry was posted in Science by Heretic. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heretic

I design video games for a living, write fiction, political theory and poetry for personal amusement, and train regularly in Western European 16th century swordwork. On frequent occasion I have been known to hunt for and explore abandoned graveyards, train tunnels and other interesting places wherever I may find them, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I am preparing to set off a zombie apocalypse. Nothing that will stand up in court, at least. I use paranthesis with distressing frequency, have a deep passion for history, anthropology and sociological theory, and really, really, really hate mayonnaise. But I wash my hands after the writing. Promise.

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