Reshaping Memories: Science Fiction or Our Future?

TranslucentBrainIs the day approaching when we can take a pill to change our brains perception of traumatic events?  Researchers at MIT have accomplished this in mice.

They have been able to activate genes involved in what they call “memory extinction”.  The process does not so much erase the memory as allow new experiences to somehow overwrite the perception experience of the memory.

When they activated certain genes, Tet1, in the mice they were able to add new experiences to the old memories.  This resulted in the old memories being washed out—at least from their emotional impact.

Mice were conditioned to fear a specific cage via electric shock.  When they were put back in to the same cage without the electric shock some mice still exhibited fear.  Other mice put back into the cage quickly learned that the cage was safe and stopped showing fear. 

What was the difference?  The mice that contained to show fear—even though the cage was now safe—lacked Tet1 gene activation.  The mice that adapted to the situation had the Tet1 gene activated.

There is still a long way to go before human trials.  Yet this raises some interesting questions and even more interesting potentials.

Do you think we should mess with memory gene activation?  What are some potential benefits of this kind of treatment?  What are some risks?  What would a future look like if people could take a pill to alter all of their unpleasant memories?

Join the discussion…

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