Although the idea of erasing your memories may sound horrific, there may be nothing better for those dealing with severe trauma. Now we're one step closer to making it a reality, with a little help from the tiny marine snail.
UCLA researcher David Glanzman led the study, which discovered that it's possible to erase long-term memories in snails by inhibiting a specific protein kinase known as PKM. While researchers have previously made headway with memory-erasing drugs, this new work focuses on the actual neurons of the brain, potentially allowing far finer control over the memory erasure process. If the methods used here could be adapted to humans, Glanzman hopes it could be used to help treat severe post-traumatic stress disorder, drug addiction, and possible long-term memory disorders such as Alzheimer's.
Glanzman explains how it all works:
"Almost all the processes that are involved in memory in the snail also have been shown to be involved in memory in the brains of mammals. We found that if we inhibit PKM in the marine snail, we will erase the memory for long-term sensitization. In addition, we can erase the long-term change at a single synapse that underlies long-term memory in the snail."