There is no backspace or CTRL+Z in life. Whatever once happened, could never be changed forever. If it is a painful thing, then the memory will haunt us for our entire life. Not anymore, says Scientists of MIT. They have discovered a pill that will erase painful memories from our brain and let us lead a peaceful and happy life.
It sounds like a plot from a Hollywood sci-fi movie, but neurologists believe they have come a step closer to being able to erase those haunting memories you’ve never been able to shake.
Echoing the 2004 Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a group of researchers think they have identified the gene, called Tet1, which performs the fascinating role of ‘memory extinction’.
The process, which occurs when old memories are replaced by new ones, is being treated as the key to arriving at a stage where memories can be managed and even deleted completely.
Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who have conducted the research, say that if a way can be found to amplify the activity the Tet1, it could lead to medical advances such as treating the memories of those who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
As part of their study, the researchers compared learning behaviour of mice with the Tet1 to mice who had their version of the gene inhibited, or as the scientists put it, ‘knocked out’.
Both sets were trained to fear a certain cage by giving them a mild electric shock each time they were placed inside.
The mice whose tet1 has been ‘knocked out’ learned to associate the cage with the shock, just like the normal mice.
But when the researchers put the mice back in the same cage without delivering the shock, the two groups behaved differently.
To the astonishment of scientists, mice with the Tet1 gene did not fear of the cage, because their memory of being hurt had already been replaced by new information.
The ‘knockout’ mice, whose memories had not been replaced, were still traumatised by the experience.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, study co-author Andrii Rudenko, said in a written statement: ‘They don’t relearn properly.
‘They’re kind of getting stuck, and cannot extinguish the old memory.’
After the animal test, the researchers now say that if they can find a way to boost the activity of the Tet1 gene, it might be possible to help people suffering from addiction as well as PTSD.
Rudenko said: ‘We think the most likely way to boost Tet1’s activity would be to use some drug: a type of pharmacological activator – such an activator still needs to be identified.’