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    • CommentAuthorLani
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2009
     (6733.1)
    From NPR,:


    When rats are about three weeks old, brain cells in the amygdala acquire a protective molecular sheath. The researchers thought that sheath might make it harder to erase memories.

    To test the hypothesis, they injected adult rats with a drug that dissolved the sheath. The adult rats forgot their fear. The scientists restored their early ability to erase fearful memories.

    The experiment, published in the journal Science on Friday, shows that "you can recover the ability of these animals to erase fear memories," Luthi says.


    First of all, I don't understand how they think they could selectively erase traumatic memories, instead of erasing all fear-based memories...including ones that could be protective, like remembering fire can cause a burn. But aside from this, what does everyone think about the ethics of this type of work? This discussion was of course brought up with regard to Sirkka and the raped girl, but now it looks like it could be a partial reality.
  1.  (6733.2)
    [sarcasm]Oh yeah, this sounds like a great idea![/sarcasm]

    In future, we'll all be fearless amnesiacs.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2009
     (6733.3)
    Yeah, have to agree with Verus.
    • CommentAuthorAlexGBYMR
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2009
     (6733.4)
    My kneejerk reaction to this idea is utter horror.
    The idea of being able to remove selected elements of a persons memories, even traumatic ones is just... wrong.
    • CommentAuthorLani
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2009
     (6733.5)
    Yeah, that's pretty much my reaction too.
    •  
      CommentAuthorJess
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2009
     (6733.6)
    Wasn't Jim Carrey in this movie?
  2.  (6733.7)
    It's a very obvious thing to say in my opinion, but:

    Life experience is one of the few good things to come out out of bad, horrible or downright traumatic situation. I've suffered from trauma, suicidal wishes, nervous breakdowns and depression because of six horrible years (my teenager years) and I wouldn't erase a single second of them. I can hardly think of something stupider to do. I'll basically be forgetting how I got past all that.
  3.  (6733.8)
    I'll basically be forgetting how I got past all that.


    That's a great point, thanks.
    • CommentAuthorLani
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2009 edited
     (6733.9)
    (To play the devil's advocate)

    Andre, you got past those issues. But what about the people who *cannot* move past? I know someone who was at Virginia Tech when the shooting occurred, and he lost several people dear to him. He and his friends, at least one of whom still has shrapnel in his bodies from the incident, may *not* be able to get over the trauma in their lifetime. For people like this, for whom the traumatic event colors and interferes with their daily functioning, what if this could give them the ability to live life again without that interference?
  4.  (6733.10)
    Might be a tool for the treatment of post-traumatic disorder in war vets, given enough refinement.
  5.  (6733.11)
    @racingpenguins

    I actually didn't get past all those issues, only some. Probably won't for a long time or ever. Interferes with my daily functioning and I had an extremely bad episode just two months ago. I still wouldn't erase those experiences, because they might happen again and I'll be in square one, unable to avoid them in the first place. And because bad experiences led me to pursuing good ones, and I want to remember that.

    And would you be willing to forget people who were dear to you? Because they're dead? For me, the only sure way to live on is in memories. I like to be constantly aware that people dear to me can go at any time, so I'll treasure every moment with them.

    (cough cough as melodramatic as that sounds cough)
    • CommentAuthorLani
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2009
     (6733.12)
    (continuing to play devil's advocate)

    Personally, I would not want to forget them. But then again, I've never been in the situation of going through a major traumatic event. I'm not the one experiencing the disruption in daily life that some people are. It seems like it's a question of what your priority is - being able to function vs. keeping your memories integrated. Shouldn't that be an individual choice?
  6.  (6733.13)
    Personally, I would not want to forget them. But then again, I've never been in the situation of going through a major traumatic event. I'm not the one experiencing the disruption in daily life that some people are. It seems like it's a question of what your priority is - being able to function vs. keeping your memories integrated. Shouldn't that be an individual choice?


    Never said it shouldn't. I'd keep mine intact, but I don't get to decide what you do with yours.
    • CommentAuthorLani
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2009
     (6733.14)
    Fair enough. :)

    /devil's advocate
  7.  (6733.15)
    (Just don't blame me if, during casual conversation, I accidentally remind you of what you erased. Whoops.)
  8.  (6733.16)
    I agree that's it's mostly a bad idea. But the PTSD applications could be terrific. I grew up in a military family; every male member suffers to it from some degree, as all are combat veterans in some capacity. My father, a former green beret, suffers from it so badly that he can't be woken up by shaking him; if you try to nudge him awake he goes into kill-mode and can seriously injure you without meaning too. I've heard them screaming from the night terrors and seen the sudden seizures, fainting, and other symptoms of sudden, severe PTSD episodes. Somehow knocking out all of these subconscious memories would be a huge benefit to their lives.
  9.  (6733.17)
    I have to agree that for cases like that it could have its use -- but then we go into another problem: how accurate can such a method be? What's the danger of losing too much or even brain damage?
    • CommentAuthorPhranky
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2009 edited
     (6733.18)
    I have to agree that for cases like that it could have its use -- but then we go into another problem: how accurate can such a method be? What's the danger of losing too much or even brain damage?


    "Technically it is brain damage"

    It reminds me of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I'd be up for it and wouldn't care too much about possible secondary memory loss as I'm not entirely sure anymore what is a dream and what's a memory... it's actually quite disconcerting.
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2009
     (6733.19)
    I don't know, but I think the way it works is that you'd still remember the events themselves, but you'd lose some of the emotion (fear) that's associated with those events.

    Removing the memory's association with the emotion would I guess in some way change the memory itself: e.g. before treatment if the memory reminds you of fear then perhaps too any new fear reminds you of that memory ... if the treatment takes away the emotional association, then new fears would no longer give you 'flashbacks' to the previous memories ... but I do think it's mostly erasing the emotional association and not the memory itself.
    • CommentAuthorE0157H7
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2009
     (6733.20)
    I can't help but thinking that having your traumatic memories erased would just lead to still having emotional problems, but for no reason. It's not as if memories and learned behavior are compartmentalized in that one bad memory center of your brain and zapping it with a forgetful laser would make you all better again. Your behavior and the deep structures of your brain are shaped by everything that you experience and it isn't a modular, partitioned system. Everything is connected and intertwined. All of the things that you feel affect everything else in some subtle way, and the memories of an event with resultant changes in the psyche run together with everything else. Even if you discount the "life experience is important" aspect, there's still the creepy problem of leaving unnatural voids where an explanation for the things that you feel once was.