Amnesia Drugs: Bad Memories Blocked

An amnesia drug that blocks or deletes bad memories is under development by researchers at Harvard and McGill University (in Montreal). The technique seems to allow psychiatrists to disrupt the biochemical pathways that allow a memory to be recalled. You don't even need to know the Vulcan mind-meld to do it.


("Forget" stated forcefully during Vulcan mind-meld)

In a new study, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, the drug propranolol is used along with therapy to "dampen" memories of trauma victims. They treated 19 accident or rape victims for ten days, during which the patients were asked to describe their memories of the traumatic event that had happened 10 years earlier. Some patients were given the drug, while others were given a placebo.

A week later, they found that patients given the drug showed fewer signs of stress when recalling their trauma.

Similar research led by Professor Joseph LeDoux has been carried out at New York University on rats; scientists were able to remove a specific memory from the brains of rats while leaving the rest of the animals' memories intact. An amnesia drug called U0126 was administered.

The rats were trained to associate two musical tones with a mild electrical shock so that when they heard either of the tones they would brace themselves for a shock.

The researchers then gave half the rats the drug when playing one of the musical tones.

After the treatment, the rats that had been given the drug no longer associated that particular tone with an imminent shock but still braced themselves upon hearing the second tone, demonstrating only one memory had been deleted.

Science fiction fans have a number of associations with the idea of banishing unwanted memories. In the 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey play lovers who have a falling out. Carrey's character goes to a company called Lacuna, Inc. to have her memories of the relationship removed.


(Jim Carrey gets spotless)

In the film, the process involves showing the person a memento of the relationship and then encouraging them to bring up specific memories while an electric shock is given. Not to give away the film, but this technique does not work as planned.

Here's a memory you might have repressed. In the classic Star Trek episode Requiem for Methuselah, Jim Kirk becomes enamored of Rayna, a beautiful woman who turns out to be an android created by a five thousand year old man who calls himself Flint, who was also Leonardo DaVinci and Shakespeare (among many others) during the course of his long life. Flint wants Rayna for himself, Kirk wants her, she loves them both, her circuits overload resulting in her death, and Kirk is devastated.


(Rayna and Flint)

Finally, Spock saves the day by applying a little-known property of the Vulcan mind-meld, which is that he can make Kirk forget about his sorrows and return to duty.

Philip K. Dick was one of the first to make use of this idea. In his 1966 short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale he writes about selectively erasing memories:

Someone, probably at a government military-sciences lab, erased his conscious memories; all he knew was that going to Mars meant something special to him, and so did being a secret agent...
(Read more about erasing memories)

In related stories, see how researchers have developed a technique that Detects False Memories; also, read about how you can Hack Your Own Reality - The Virtual Way to have better memories than the ones you actually have.

Read more about Scientists find drug to banish bad memories. Thanks to Technovelgy reader Miez who contributed this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/1/2007)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 26 )

Related News Stories - (" Medical ")

You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.

First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.

Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...

MIT Ampli Blocks Build Biomedical Devices
Damn it Spock, I'm a doctor not an engineer!

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Las Vegas Humans Ready To Strike Over Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot... had to be compensated.'

You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.'

Elon Musk Seeks To Create 1941 Heinlein Speedster
'The car surged and lifted, clearing its top by a negligible margin.'

Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.

Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Art imitates life imitates art.

Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'

First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.

VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.'

Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.

Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...

Galini 3D Printed Sleeping Pod Tiny Houses
'The houses are prefabricated units...'

MIT Boffins Create Psychopath AI On Purpose
There's a lesson in this for neural net AI engineers everywhere.

Skin Electronics 3D Printed
'June's body is a tracery of lambent lines, like some arcane capillary circuitry...'

Artificial Sensory Neurons For Prosthetics, Robots
Great for humans and robots!

China Uses Artificial Intelligence To Grade Student Papers
Looks like the City Fathers are starting to take over China's education system.

Electronic Tongues Will Rule The Kitchen
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.