Is this fun ‘Men In Black’ type stuff, truly useful in the ease of psychological pain from traumatic memories, or totally scary ‘Brave New World’ totalitarianism in the making? Scientists have found that proteins can be removed from the brain’s fear center to delete memories forever. Meredith Cohn reports for the Baltimore Sun, via the LA Times:
Reporting from Baltimore — Soldiers haunted by scenes of war and victims scarred by violence may wish they could wipe the memories from their minds. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say that may someday be possible.
A commercial drug remains far off — and its use would be subject to many ethical and practical questions. But scientists have laid a foundation with their discovery that proteins can be removed from the brain’s fear center to erase memories forever. “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,” said Richard L. Huganir, professor and chair of neuroscience in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He said his finding on the molecular process “raises the possibility of manipulating those mechanisms with drugs to enhance behavioral therapy for such conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder.”
The research has drawn interest — and concern — from some involved in mental healthcare. Kate Farinholt, executive director of the mental health support and information group National Alliance on Mental Illness of Maryland, said many people suffering from a traumatic event might benefit from erasing a memory. But there are a lot of unanswered questions, she said. “Erasing a memory and then everything bad built on that is an amazing idea, and I can see all sorts of potential,” she said. “But completely deleting a memory, assuming it’s one memory, is a little scary. How do you remove a memory without removing a whole part of someone’s life, and is it best to do that, considering that people grow and learn from their experiences?”…
[continues in the LA Times]