Erase painful memories

Daily Mail
29.04.2011
By Daily Mail Reporter

Erase painful memories: Scientific breakthrough could let us delete trauma from our minds

All of us have wanted to erase a painful memory at some point.

Now scientists claim they are on the verge of a breakthrough after finding a way to potentially delete trauma from our minds.

They have discovered a link between a protein called PKM and our recollection of disturbing events.

Their study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, could have profound implications for war veterans, the victims of violent crimes and those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lead researcher David Glanzman, from the University of California, Los Angeles, said: ‘I think we will be able to alter memories someday to reduce the trauma from our brains.

‘We can do this in culture, and there is no essential difference between the synapse in culture and the synapse in your brain.’

Professor Glanzman, a cellular neuroscientist, and his team reported that they have eliminated, or at least substantially weakened, a long-term memory in both the marine snail known as Aplysia and neurons in a Petri dish.

The researchers said they have gained important insights into the cell biology of long-term memory.

They discovered that the long-term memory for sensitisation in the marine snail can be erased by inhibiting the activity of PKM, a protein associated with memory.

The research could also help treat drug addiction, in which memory plays an important role, and perhaps Alzheimer’s disease and other long-term memory disorders.

The researchers studied PKM in the marine snail, which has simple forms of learning and a simple nervous system, so that they could understand in precise detail how PKM’s activity maintains a long-term memory, a process that is not well understood.

They looked at a simple kind of memory called sensitisation. If marine snails are attacked by a predator, the attack heightens their sensitivity to environmental stimuli - a ‘fundamental form of learning that is necessary for survival and is very robust in the marine snail,’ Professor Glanzman said.

They succeeded in erasing a long-term memory, both in the snail itself and in the circuit in the dish.

Full article

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