Heart pill to banish bad memories
2009-02-18 0:00

From: bbc.co.uk

Scientists believe a common heart medicine may be able to banish fearful memories from the mind.

The Dutch investigators believe beta-blocker drugs could help people suffering from the emotional after-effects of traumatic experiences.

They believe the drug alters how memories are recalled after carrying out the study of 60 people, Nature Neuroscience reports.

But British experts questioned the ethics of tampering with the mind.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said he was concerned about the "fundamentally pharmacological" approach to people with problems such as phobias and anxiety.

He said the procedure might also alter good memories and warned against an "accelerated Alzheimer's" approach.

In the study, the researchers artificially created a fearful memory by associating pictures of spiders with a mild electric shock delivered to the wrists of the volunteers.

A day later the volunteers were split into two groups - one was given the beta blocker propranolol and the other a dummy drug before both were shown the same pictures again.

The researchers assessed how fearful of the pictures the volunteers were by playing sudden noises and measuring how strongly they blinked, something called the "startle response".

Memories erased
The group that had taken beta blockers showed less fear than the group that had taken the placebo pill.

The following day, once the drug was out of their system, the volunteers were retested. Once again, those who had taken the beta blocker were less startled by the images.

Study leader Dr Merel Kindt explained that although the memories are still intact, the emotional intensity of the memory is dampened.

Dr Kindt stressed that using the procedure for complex conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder was still many years away.

Experiments on animals has shown beta blockers can interfere with how the brain makes sense of frightening events.

She told Nature Neuroscience: "Millions of people suffer from emotional disorders and the relapse of fear, even after successful treatment.

"Our findings may have important implications for the understanding and treatment of persistent and self-perpetuating memories in individuals suffering from emotional disorders."

But Professor Neil Burgess of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience said the research merely demonstrates that the beta blockers reduce a person's startle response, breaking the association of the spider to these unconscious responses.

And Dr Daniel Sokol, lecturer in Medical Ethics at St George's, University of London, said memories were important, for people to learn from their mistakes for example.

"Removing bad memories is not like removing a wart or a mole. It will change our personal identity since who we are is linked to our memories. It may perhaps be beneficial in some cases, but before eradicating memories, we must reflect on the knock-on effects that this will have on individuals, society and our sense of humanity."

John Harris, Professor of Bioethics at the University of Manchester, said: "An interesting complexity is the possibility that victims, say of violence, might wish to erase the painful memory and with it their ability to give evidence against assailants."

Source: Heart pill to banish bad memories

Scientists may soon be able to erase fear and trauma from your mind



Related Articles
Erasing the Pain of the Past
'Pleasure Drugs' Boom On Way, Says Think-Tank
Stimulants
Repressed Memory - A Cultural Symptom?


Latest News from our Front Page

Sweden may be at war "in a few years" - top brass in leaked document
2016-02-13 5:24
In a few years Sweden may be engaged in a war with a “qualified opponent” after two centuries of peace, a senior Swedish commander has told soldiers in an internal brochure. The alarming message was reportedly sent by Major General Anders Brännström, the Army chief, in a brochure distributed among the participants of a major annual event that is to open ...
Danish imam urges govt to accept child marriages among refugees
2016-02-13 4:57
A high-profile imam has urged the Danish government to accept child brides, as the practice is part of the culture of many refugees arriving in the country. It follows an announcement by Denmark that such couples will be separated under Danish law. Imam Oussama El-Saadi, of the Aarhus mosque in Denmark, said that child brides should be looked at from a ...
White Parents in Virginia Shutdown White Guilt Video!
2016-02-13 4:56
You see folks? This is what happens when you stop blaming the Joo, and you get the fuck off your favorite bitch corner and start taking action! This is what happens when parents start parenting again! What? You’re gonna brainwash our kids with your filth and lies? We don’t think so. How would you like an empty school with no ...
Hungarian Top Economist: Civil War is Coming to Europe
2016-02-13 2:36
Zsolt Bayer, Hungarian journalist, publicist, and co-founder of Hungary's currently ruling political party, and Dr. László Bogár, former politician and leading economist, discuss the Cologne sexual assualts committed by migrants on New Year's Eve, 2016. This short part of the 60-minute long television program that aired on Echo TV on January 8, 2016, is of a rant by Mr. Bogár warning ...
British scientists granted permission to genetically modify human embryos
2016-02-12 23:48
The Francis Crick institute will genetically edit the leftover embryos from from IVF clinics British scientists have been granted permission to genetically modify human embryos by the fertility regulator. The scientists want to deactivate genes in leftover embryos from IVF clinics to see if it hinders development. It will only be the second time in the world that such a procedure has ...
More News »