Researchers Discover How to Erase Memory: How Dangerous Could this Be?
Researchers have discovered how to erase a memory. They have found a protein, that if removed from a specific region of the brain that recalls fear; they could completely erase the memory of a traumatic experience. Could this discovery be useful in treating things like depression or post traumatic stress disorder, or could this discovery actually be used in ways that may be dangerous. This seems like something out of a sci-fi movie, but may be closer to human application as we think.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have been working with mice and will release a report on their findings in Science Express this week.
“When a traumatic event occurs, it creates a fearful memory that can last a lifetime and have a debilitating effect on a person’s life,” says Richard L. Huganir, Ph.D., professor and director of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine “Our finding… raises the possibility of manipulating those mechanisms with drugs to enhance behavioral therapy for such conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder.”
In plain English, Huganir and team are finding a way to basically “ease” the depth of a traumatic memory, though the memory isn’t completely removed. This however, still sounds a bit like “science fiction.” Isn’t there a scene in ‘Men in Black’ where they can flash a ‘Memory Eraser’ in front of your eyes, and you remember nothing?
Huganir admits that this all sounds a bit futuristic, “But this may one day be applicable for the treatment of debilitating fearful memories in people, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome associated with war, rape or other traumatic events.”
This is good news. Could you really be able to help someone who has gone through a horrific event in their life? That it could be used to treat people that have faced a traumatic situation however could be quite the breakthrough. One fear though is someone using this to actually perform criminal acts, and then erasing the memory from the victim. How far is too far? What is the line between good uses of a new treatment and potential bad uses, or is there a line at all?