A new study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience suggests that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be an effective way to erase unwanted or traumatic memories.
The study was conducted by researchers at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands who observed patients already undergoing ECT for depression and showed them two picture cards, each accompanied by an unpleasant story.
The patients were once again shown one of the pictures just before going through ECT, which reactivated their memories of the story.
However the day after they received ECT, the researchers found that the patients had lost the memory of that story while they did remember the story behind the second picture. "Potentially it's very exciting because if we can manage to reactivate thoughts or memories then we have goals for the treatment of these problems", Dr Jeroen Van Waarde said. The researchers admitted that the test had been carried out on artificial memories and it could be difficult to erase real memories.