Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have discovered a way to selectively erase the memories of mice. Could this same application successfully transfer to the mental faculties of the human mind?
In the study mice were given small amounts of methamphetamine to stimulate the feel-good emotions that many experience after ingesting the drug. The mice would then correlate a positive relationship with environment in which they were subjected to the drugs.
This is similar to the pleasurable association people have with raves after taking MDMA or ecstasy.
Mice then became habituated in pressing a lever to get a dose of methamphetamine, creating a positive correlation between that specific environment and a feel good response. The scientists then injected mice with a type of memory inhibitor that affected the memories associated with methamphetamine. The mice would then return to that same pleasing environment, but showed little interest in the lever which popped out methamphetamine after they the memory inhibitor was in their system.
The association between the lever providing a pleasurable dose of methamphetamine had been forgotten.
The study goes on to state that other memories of the mice were not affected with the use of the memory inhibitor, which is rather difficult to comprehend, but nonetheless a claim they are making.
Courtney Miller, a researcher on the project summarized their hopes in the study.
“Not unlike in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, we’re looking for strategies to selectively eliminate evidence of past experiences related to drug abuse or a traumatic event. Our study shows we can do just that in mice–wipe out deeply engrained drug-related memories without harming other memories.”
Drug related memories can be very toxic and powerful that are not easily forgotten which is why the researchers plan to narrow in on this area of suffering. This type of chemical treatment might help people with substance abuse disorders move through and out of their traumas, helping them move on in life.
I will be keeping a watchful eye on the progress they make and will keep you attune to their headway. This could really lead to some serious freedom for a lot of people!
What do you think about the study?