Some memories can haunt us for our entire lives, but scientists have found a way to delete long-term memories from the minds of rodents - and also stop them from forming altogether. The new episode of AsapSCIENCE explains.
Ever had a painful memory you just wish you could forget? It's the premise of cult movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but the science is actually a lot closer than you might think, as the latest episode of AsapSCIENCE explains.
Over the past decades, researchers have learnt that memory is a brain-wide process that requires your brain cells to grow and rewire the circuitry of your brain. All of this memory-forming activity is triggered by particular proteins, and when scientists use a drug to block those proteins, they've shown they can stop memories forming in animals.
Interestingly, this same technique can be used to erase long-term memories. Each time we think back on a memory, for example, a traumatic moment in our childhood, that memory is actually rewired in our brain. In other words, you're physically changing a memory in your brain each time you think about it.
This is the process that results in our memories gradually changing over time, but it also gives scientists an opportunity to use drugs to stop those long-term memories from reforming. In rats, this technique has already been used to effectively delete entire memories, without harming the rest of the brain.
Scientists are now taking this research one step further and looking into how they can change people's bad memories to associate them with less negative emotions - a technique that could greatly help patients with post traumatic stress disorder.
But the really big question is, if there was a pill you could take to delete your bad memories, would you take it?
Watch the new episode of AsapSCIENCE above to find out more.