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Coming soon, a drug to erase bad memories

entertainment Updated: Sep 15, 2009 00:41 IST

Imagine popping a pill to get over a break up? Well your imagination could someday turn into reality, if scientists go ahead with plans to develop a drug to erase bad memories.

A team at Friedrich Miescher Institute in Switzerland could develop a memory-cleansing drug that has the ability to remove any recollection of unhappy or embarrassing incidents, like childhood teasing and upsetting memories of a failed love affair, from people’s minds, the Daily Mail reported.

The possibility of a memory drug for human consumption has been raised following successful animal trials at the institute’s laboratory.

During the latest research, animals were given a drug that dissolves a barrier around amygdala — the almond-shaped organ in the brain where mammals store their memories of fear. It found that after receiving treatment, the animals stopped being scared of sounds linked to electric shocks, indicating the memories had been erased.

Human beings share the same organ in the brain and the scientists have argued that the drug could work on patients.

Scientists have welcomed the prospect of such a drug to wipe out troubling memories.

Prof Joseph LeDoux of New York University said human brains had similar sheaths and that drug treatment and therapy could help human sufferers “overwrite” memories with happier thoughts.

“Any soldier with post-traumatic stress I’ve talked to would have been willing to sacrifice a few normal memories for the bad ones they may get rid of if these experiments are successful,” he said.

Ashok Hegde of Wake Forest University in North Carolina said a past episode of public mockery is the main memory that people would want erased. “Public humiliation is a constant source of lingering memories.”