The Forgetting Pill Erases Painful Memories Forever (Wired)Posted: 2012/03/02
Memory Erasure: How It Works
For years scientists have been able to change the emotional tone of a memory by administering certain drugs just before asking people to recall the event in detail. New research suggests that they’ll be able to target and erase specific memories altogether. Here’s how.
1/ Pick a memory.
It has to be something deeply implanted in the brain, a long-term memory that has undergone a process called consolidation—a restructuring of neural connections.
2/ Recall requires neural connections by protein synthesis.
To remember something, your brain synthesizes new proteins to stabilize circuits of neural connections. To date, researchers have identified one such protein, called PKMzeta. Before trying to erase the targeted memory, researchers would ensure that it was ensconced by having the patient write down an account of the event or retell it aloud several times.
3/ Nuke the memory.
To delete the memory, researchers would administer a drug that blocks PKMzeta and then ask the patient to recall the event again. Because the protein required to reconsolidate the memory will be absent, the memory will cease to exist. Neuroscientists think they’ll be able to target the specific memory by using drugs that bind selectively to receptors found only in the correct area of the brain.
4/ Everything else is fine.
If the drug is selective enough and the memory precise enough, everything else in the brain should be unaffected and remain as correct—or incorrect—as ever.
The question for me is not ‘would I want to do this?’- it’d be ‘oh shit, where should I start????’