A sea slug may hold the secret to erasing bad memories and PTSD

New research study suggests that your problematic memories could be deleted with no harm to your brain

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Traumatic memories can be deleted leaving others unharmed - photo credit - Youtube

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2017 — If you could eliminate the most traumatic memories and fears you have ever experienced in your life, would you? According to what may be explosive scientific findings detailed in the journal Current Biology, we may finally be able to rid the human brain of anxiety, fear and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Survivors of war, the death of a loved one, and myriad other traumatizing events may finally be freed from the trauma and anxiety, according to researchers from McGill and Columbia University.

They believe that they can erase negative triggering details from a person’s memory with new medications, reports the Huffington Post.

Some may fear that the targeted erasure of memory will lead to an Orwellian nightmare, but Samuel Schacher disagrees. The professor of neuroscience at Columbia and a study co-author thinks the elimination of fear stemming from traumatic events could be a benefit. In a Columbia University Medical Center release, he says,


“The example I like to give is, if you are walking in a high-crime area and you take a shortcut through a dark alley and get mugged, and then you happen to see a mailbox nearby, you might get really nervous when you want to mail something later on.”

The very thought that a mailbox could trigger heightened fear, as could touching a piece of mail or passing a post office. Removing that fear from the brain would be a positive change agent for both anxiety sufferers and their families.

Aplysia is a genus of medium-sized to extremely large sea slugs, specifically sea hares, which are one clade of large sea slugs, marine gastropod molluscs. | Image by Genny Anderson for Wiki CCO – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aplysia_californica.jpg

Researchers base this possibility on tests with Aplysia snails. These snails have a relatively large nervous system which is both well understood and easily manipulated.

The scientists’ experiments on the motor and sensory neurons led to the discovery that “associative (unwanted) memory, or a non-associative (necessary) memory in a snail’s brain could be deleted by blocking different protein molecules,” according to the study.

They conclude that it is possible to eliminate some memories without losing others on the same neuron. So, for those who might be fearful that erasing a traumatic memory would harm their other memories, this finding may assuage their fears.

Is this the breakthrough that psychiatrists have needed to treat trauma patients? Jiangyuan Hu, PhD, an associate research scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at CUMC and co-author of the paper believes so.

According to Hu,

“Memory erasure has the potential to alleviate PTSD and anxiety disorders by removing the non-associative memory that causes the maladaptive physiological response.” He adds, “By isolating the exact molecules that maintain non-associative memory, we may be able to develop drugs that can treat anxiety without affecting the patient’s normal memory of past events.”

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Kevin Fobbs
Kevin Fobbs began writing professionally in 1975. He has been published in the "New York Times," and has written for the "Detroit News," "Michigan Chronicle," “GOPUSA,” "Soul Source" and "Writers Digest" magazines as well as the Ann Arbor and Cleveland "Examiner," "Free Patriot," "Conservatives4 Palin" and "Positively Republican." The former daily host of The Kevin Fobbs Show on conservative News Talk WDTK - 1400 AM in Detroit, he is also a published author. His Christian children’s book, “Is There a Lion in My Kitchen,” hit bookstores in 2014. He writes for Communities Digital News, and his weekly show "Standing at Freedom’s Gate" on Community Digital News Hour tackles the latest national and international issues of freedom, faith and protecting the homeland and heartland of America as well as solutions that are needed. Fobbs also writes for Clash Daily, Renew America and BuzzPo. He covers Second Amendment, Illegal Immigration, Pro-Life, patriotism, terrorism and other domestic and foreign affairs issues. As the former 12-year Community Concerns columnist with The Detroit News, he covered community, family relations, domestic abuse, education, business, government relations, and community and business dispute resolution. Fobbs obtained a political science and journalism degree from Eastern Michigan University in 1978 and attended Wayne State University Law School. He spearheaded and managed state and national campaigns as well as several of President George W. Bush's White House initiatives in areas including Education, Social Security, Welfare Reform, and Faith-Based Initiatives.