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Machines Like Us

Wipe out a single memory

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Credit: Wikimedia commons

A single, specific memory has been wiped from the brains of rats, leaving other recollections intact.

The study adds to our understanding of how memories are made and altered in the brain, and could help to relieve sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) of the fearful memories that disrupt their lives. The results are published in Nature Neuroscience1.

The brain secures memories by transferring them from short-term to long-term storage, through a process called reconsolidation. It has been shown before that this process can be interrupted with drugs. But Joseph LeDoux of the Center for Neural Science at New York University and his colleagues wanted to know how specific this interference was: could the transfer of one specific memory be meddled with without affecting others?

Read full story in Nature.