Scientists have Found Ways to Edit Memory

Scientists suggest erasing negative memories to treat trauma. And to fight depression, on the contrary, you can, introducing a pleasant experience. All these methods are associated with an active effect on the brain with drugs or implanted electrodes, this is very laborious and ethically questionable.

At the end of last year, Spanish researchers studied how various drugs used in general anesthesia affect the human brain. For this, fifty volunteers who had planned operations under anesthesia, showed two videos a week before the procedure with a negative event in the middle. In the first, the boy was in a car accident, in the second – the criminals attacked a woman. The beginning and end of both stories were emotionally neutral.

Immediately before the operation, participants in the experiment were reminded of videos, showing a frame of one of them. This was followed by general anesthesia. Some volunteers were asked to recall the details of the stories an hour after they woke up, others — a day later.

It turned out that the drug propofol, which was used for anesthesia, is able to erase negative traumatic memories. Participants who tried to tell about the story, which was discussed in detail on the eve of the operation, could not recall the details of the unpleasant event that occurred in the middle of the day. The second video they remembered better. Most of the details were told by those who were interviewed an hour after the anesthesia had ended. It turned out that the effect of the drug was notice.

Scientists suggest erasing negative memories to treat trauma. And to fight depression, on the contrary, you can, introducing a pleasant experience. All these methods are associated with an active effect on the brain with drugs or implanted electrodes, this is very laborious and ethically questionable.

At the end of last year, Spanish researchers studied how various drugs used in general anesthesia affect the human brain. For this, fifty volunteers who had planned operations under anesthesia, showed two videos a week before the procedure with a negative event in the middle. In the first, the boy was in a car accident, in the second – the criminals attacked a woman. The beginning and end of both stories were emotionally neutral.

Immediately before the operation, participants in the experiment were reminded of videos, showing a frame of one of them. This was followed by general anesthesia. Some volunteers were asked to recall the details of the stories an hour after they woke up, others — a day later.

It turned out that the drug propofol, which was used for anesthesia, is able to erase negative traumatic memories. Participants who tried to tell about the story, which was discussed in detail on the eve of the operation, could not recall the details of the unpleasant event that occurred in the middle of the day. The second video they remembered better. Most of the details were told by those who were interviewed an hour after the anesthesia had ended. It turned out that the effect of the drug was notice.

A year later, the same team learned to bring laboratory mice out of depression, artificially evoking pleasant memories in their memory. The researchers allowed the males to spend some time with the females, highlighting the neural ensembles that were activated during the mating process. Then the rodents for ten days were placed in a special vice, restricting movement. Already at the end of the first week of imprisonment, the mice showed signs of depression – they refused to have sweet water and did not try to escape when they were held by the tail.

But if neuroscientists “turned on” the neurons associated with memories of females, the negative symptoms disappeared in minutes. With regular activation of pleasant memories, the mice went out of stress in a week. Interestingly, when depressed males were simply placed on females, they ignored them, and the condition of the rodents did not improve.

French researchers forced mice to recall something that was not really. The brain of a sleeping rodent was reprogrammed in such a way that it formed a whole chain of false memories and associations.

The fact is that the memory of animals, including man, turns from short-term to long-term mainly during sleep. Based on this, scientists have created a computer algorithm that allows you to link memories of places that a rodent visited, with specific sensations – pain, fear or pleasure. To do this, two electrodes were inserted into the mouse’s brain: one into the hippocampus, the other into the center of reinforcement.

In the brain of mice, in the hippocampus, there are so-called “place neurons” activated as the animal moves in space. Scientists correlated one of these neurons with a specific part of the cell in which the rodent lived. When this neuron was activated during sleep in an animal’s brain, an electrode was launched that stimulated the pleasure center. In this way, initially neutral memories of the place were associated with something positive. Upon awakening, reprogrammed mice preferred to spend most of their time in that part of the cage with which pleasure was now associated. With awake animals this method did not work.

The authors of the study admit that this approach can also be used for experiments with point manipulations of human memory. But whether such a technique will be effective in humans, given the additional difficulties in the form of electrode transplantation and possible ethical problems, is unknown.

Moreover, as established by British scientists, a man still copes with the formation of false memories without complicated scientific devices. According to their data, the first memories of most people are not real. Interviewing more than six thousand respondents, the researchers found that forty percent of early memories are from one to three years old, when episodic memories are not yet formed. So, they are all fictional.

In addition, American experts have shown that a person can simply inspire false memories. Subjects who had been to Disneyland were shown a fake video of Disney Studios starring Rabbit Bugs Bunny. After some time, they were asked to talk about a trip to an amusement park, and 16 percent of volunteers were confident that they had met Bugs Bunny at Disneyland. Meanwhile, this rabbit – a character in the studio Warner Brothers and could not be in Disneyland.

The authors of the work emphasize: all the memories of the cartoon character were emotionally colored and full of details, which means that people considered false memories to be real.

Reviewer overview

Scientists suggest erasing negative memories to treat trauma. And to fight depression, on the contrary, you can, introducing a pleasant experience. - /10

Summary

Scientists suggest erasing negative memories to treat trauma. And to fight depression, on the contrary, you can, introducing a pleasant experience.

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