There are incidents in life which are so painful that we wish we could just forget them. Now, this might be possible by just popping in a pill to wipe out sad and painful memories.
US researchers have discovered that proteins can be removed from the brain's fear centre to wipe out traumatic memories.
AdvertisementTheir findings could be of benefit to soldiers who have experienced distressing events and victims of violence, or even help couples get over the hurt of painful break-ups.
Professor Richard Huganir and his colleagues discovered a 'window of vulnerability' when unique receptor proteins are created in the brain as painful memories are made. Because the proteins are unstable, they could be removed with drugs to eliminate the memory forever.
"When a traumatic event occurs, it creates a fearful memory that can last a lifetime and have a debilitating effect on a person's life," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
He said his findings "raise the possibility of manipulating those mechanisms with drugs to enhance behavioural therapy for such conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder."
However, Kate Farinholt, of a mental health support group in Maryland, is not entirely convinced by the idea.
"Erasing a memory and then everything bad built on that is an amazing idea. But completely deleting a memory is a little scary. How do you remove a memory without removing a whole part of someone's life, and is it best to do that, considering that people grow and learn from their experiences?" she asked.
Paul Root Wolpe, of the Centre for Ethics, at Emory University in Atlanta, said, "Human identity is tied into memory. It creates our distinctive personalities. It's a troublesome idea to begin to be able to manipulate that, even if for the best of motives."