Monday, October 27, 2008

'Eternal Sunshine' - but really. In mice.

I have been all over the Southeast this weekend touring with family, so I haven't yet had a chance to post this. I've been thinking about it ever since I heard the report on NPR last Wednesday.

From the BBC: (which, while this study took place in the US, is who NPR cited in their story...)

Scientists in the US say they have developed the ability to selectively wipe out uncomfortable memories.

In experiments with mice, researchers from the Medical College of Georgia were able to eliminate memories without any damage to the rodents' brains.

They suggested that the technique which works on a particular protein in the brain could, one day, be used to help humans overcome traumatic events.

However, the chief scientist said this was "years or even decades away".

Memories, even painful ones, are an important part of the learning process but for some people recalling traumatic events can be extremely damaging to their lives.

Scientists at the Medical College of Georgia say they have found a molecular mechanism that can rapidly remove specific memories.

The rest of the article goes into the scientific process of erasing the memories, at which point I switched off and started thinking about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and how erasing memories couldn't possibly be as neat and tidy as swallowing a little pill and forgetting everything.

With the POSSIBLE extreme exception of, oh, I don't know, witnessing a violent crime or being at war - I can't imagine what good could come out of erasing painful memories.

Isn't that how we learn?

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