Researchers at Harvard and McGill Universities are experimenting with an amnesia drug that may help people discard bad memories, while leaving the rest of their memories intact.
The scientists used the drug propranolol along with therapy to "dampen" memories of 19 accident or rape victims for ten days. They asked the patients to describe their memories of the traumatic event that had happened 10 years earlier.
Some patients were given the drug used to treat amnesia, while others were given a placebo.
After a week, patients given the drug showed fewer signs of stress when recalling their trauma, reports Live Science.
Professor Joseph LeDoux led a similar experiment on rats at New York University, which enabled them to remove a specific memory from the animals' brains while leaving the rest of their memories intact. An amnesia drug called U0126 was used in the study.
The researchers trained the rats to associate two musical tones with a mild electrical shock, so that they would brace themselves for a shock when they heard either of the tones. Thereafter they gave half of the rats the drug when playing one of the musical tones.
Rats administered the drug stopped associating that particular tone with an imminent shock after the treatment, but they still braced themselves upon hearing the second tone. It clearly indicates that they had gotten rid of one of the two memories.