By Bryan Garcia
There is no doubt that memory plays a significant role in our lives. Without the ability of memory, we cannot do simple everyday tasks like riding a bike, solving a mathematical problem, or making a sandwich. If our memory loss is so severe, we may not even recognize who we are. Memory is important. But what about traumatic memories? That’s what scientists are looking into with their new experiment: Memory Erasure.
For many years, scientists believed that memories were stored in a specific region of the brain. This, however, is simply not true. All the memories that an individual has are stored throughout the brain. When you reminisce on a past event, proteins are being stimulated within your brain cells, causing the brain’s circuitry to be rewired and strengthened. That’s all fine and what not, but what would happen if these proteins were to be absent within the brain? Scientists have theorized that if proteins were responsible for the recollection of memories, then the absence of those proteins would result in no recollection of data or memory.
In attempts to prove this theory, researchers took lab rats and played a specific sound for them. Shortly after hearing this sound, the lab rats were given an electric shock. After multiple trials, the rats soon realized that once they heard the repeating sound, they would experience the electric disturbance. Because of this, the rats quickly froze in paranoia after hearing the noise. Even after months of the noise being distant from the rats, they would still freeze in fear once they heard the noise go off again.
With this in mind, the researchers then gave the rats a drug that blocked the memory-inducing proteins from allowing the rats to have any recollection of being shocked in the first place. As a result of this, the lab rats had no recollection of being shocked after hearing the sound once they were drugged. The researchers had successfully erased the rats’ memory.
Now that scientists have accomplished memory erasure, what could this mean for the future generations? With this biological manipulation, scientists can effectively erase mental conditions such as anxiety, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Hopefully as time passes and as technology improves, scientists can master the act of erasing memory. Mental turmoil will be a thing of the past and forgetting anything can be a bit easier with this developing phenomenon.