Some of you might recall the estranged couple from the movie, ‘Eternal sunshine of a spotless mind’ who get their memories erased with an agenda to find their bliss. Didn’t it make you wonder? If an ingenious procedure like that becomes a reality, it could change life as we know it.
A new research from Western University attempted finding a similar cure by blocking memories particularly for patients with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and drug addiction. This research performed by Nicole Lauzon, a PhD candidate in the laboratory of Steven Laviolette at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry has revealed a common mechanism in the brain that can control recall of both aversive and fearful memories in PTSD patients and memories associated with rewarding experience in the case of drug addiction. More importantly, these researchers have discovered a way to actively suppress the spontaneous recall of both types of memories, without permanently altering memories.
The investigators used a rat model for their experiments and discovered that stimulating a sub-type of dopamine receptor called the “D1” receptor in a specific area of the brain, could completely prevent the recall of both aversive and reward-related memories. The interesting thing about these findings is that the researchers were able to prevent the spontaneous recall of these memories, but the memories were still intact. And no form of brain damage was induced.
These are breakthrough findings because obtrusive recall of memories that are associated with the fearful, emotional experiences in PTSD patients and potential drug relapse contributed by environmental factors are common problems. If further study is conducted to effectively block the recall of these memories, it could lead to a potential target for drugs to treat these disorders.