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The pill that can wipe out those painful memories
06-04-2010, 10:35 AM,
The pill that can wipe out those painful memories
Quote:Forgetting an unhappy love affair or a traumatic accident could soon be as easy as popping a pill.

At the risk of being accused of developing a pill for everything, scientists have discovered a drug that helps numb the pain of bad memories by flooding the mind with feelings of security and safety.

And the technique could one day be used to cure phobia sufferers of their fears, help soldiers recover from the horrors of battle or allow accident victims to put their trauma behind them.

To test the effectiveness of the drug, researchers created bad memories by giving mice electric shocks while a loud noise was played.

Over time, the creatures learned to associate the sound with the shock, and hearing the noise alone was enough to make them freeze.

But when they were given a drug called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, they lost their fear, the journal Science reports.

The effect of the drug was similar to a psychological technique called extinction training, in which phobia sufferers are repeatedly exposed to their nemesis in a bid to desensitise them to it.

The U.S. government-funded researchers believe that, as in extinction training, the drug did not erase the bad memory completely, but created a sense of safety and positivity that made it easier to cope with.

They think it does this by triggering the growth of connections between cells in a part of the brain that is crucial in dealing with phobias.

BDNF is naturally produced in the brain, and experiments showed that rats with a shortage of the compound struggled to overwrite bad memories.

Failure to overwrite fear is thought to contribute to post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as other psychological problems.

Prozac also raises levels of BDNF, but the researchers believe that more effective drugs could be developed to tackle fears and phobias.

Dr Thomas Insel of the National Institute of Mental Health, which financed the research, said: 'Many lines of evidence implicate BDNF in mental disorders.

'This work supports the idea that medications could be developed to augment the effects of BDNF, providing opportunities for pharmaceutical treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders.'

A drug that boosts levels of BDNF in the brain might also help people tackle addictions.

The researchers, from the University of Puerto Rico, will now look into the possibility of creating such a pill - and will also study whether exercise could be beneficial in dealing with fear.

The ability to erase painful memories has been the stuff of science fiction and Hollywood blockbusters for decades.

In the film Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, a couple, played by Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey, undergo a procedure known as 'targeted memory erasure' to wipe out all recollection of each other after their relationship turns sour.

Last year, Dutch researchers discovered that beta-blocker drugs used to treat heart disease may also help patients to banish bad memories.

And scientists have shown that maintaining a stiff upper lip in times of crisis can stop bad memories from being laid down.

Those who refuse to panic during moments of trauma remember less about what they saw than people who are more emotional.

It is thought that by concentrating so hard on keeping their emotions in check, they overload their brain, stopping it from taking in what is happening.

But the field is not without its critics, with some claiming that holding on to and reviewing bad memories is essential if we are to learn from our mistakes.
The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. - Che Guevara

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06-04-2010, 11:56 AM,
RE: The pill that can wipe out those painful memories
Predictive programming:

* Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (mentioned in the piece)
* Strange Days
* Men In Black

Memento, Fifty First Dates, The Butterfly Effect, The Cell, and The Kid also come to mind when dealing with memory reconstruction or destruction. It's a common theme in the odd sitcom dating back as far back as Gilligan's Island from what I remember.
There are no others, there is only us.
06-04-2010, 01:04 PM,
RE: The pill that can wipe out those painful memories
Related article that is mildly fascinating written soon after the movie came out several years ago.

Quote:The Science of Eternal Sunshine
You can't erase your boyfriend from your brain, but the movie gets the rest of it right.
By Steven JohnsonPosted Monday, March 22, 2004, at 4:33 PM ET

One of the many rewarding parts of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the fact that the film contains almost no dialogue that sounds like actual neuroscience. The film, as you may already know, tells the story of two star-crossed lovers whose stars have gotten so crossed that they decide to erase their memories of each other, using the services of a company called Lacuna Inc. Lacuna's offices have been cunningly art-directed to look like a low-rent plastic surgeon's, which is precisely the point. Memory erasure, in Eternal Sunshine's world, is just the next logical step up from breast augmentation and Prozac. When Clementine (Kate Winslet's character) first decides to shed her memories of Joel (played by Jim Carrey), she does it "on a lark," the way you might get your forehead Botoxed on a whim. But despite the futurist premise, Sunshine spares us the gratuitous speech explaining How It All Works. There's no animated "Mr. DNA" à la Jurassic Park* or some hopeless jargon about "hacking into the neocortex." The closest you get is a nervous conversation between Joel and his doctor: "Is there any risk of brain damage?" The doctor replies, "Technically speaking, the procedure is brain damage. It's on a par with a night of heavy drinking, nothing you'll miss."

For the record, using today's technology, it is not possible to selectively erase an entire person from your memory. But Eternal Sunshine still demonstrates a remarkably nuanced understanding of how the brain forms memories, particularly memories about intense emotional experiences. The film displays a more subtle model of memory formation than the acclaimed thriller Memento, in which a man incapable of forming long-term memories hunts down a killer; he furiously scribbles clues onto Polaroids before his memory fades to black.

Memento revolved around an older model of memory formation, from the days when the brain was imagined as a wetware computer. The fading of memory in Memento is about the loss of pure information, like an erased hard drive. In Eternal Sunshine, the richness of memory is as much about emotion as raw data. There's a wonderful throwaway line at one point in the film, where Joel is reliving a memory of hiding under the kitchen table as a 4-year-old, calling out for his mother. "I really want her to pick me up," the grown-up Joel says, as he relives the experience. "It's amazing how strong this feeling is."

The emphasis on feeling over data processing puts Eternal Sunshine squarely in the mainstream of the brain sciences today. We now know that the brain stores emotional memories very differently from unemotional ones. Negative emotional memories, for instance, tend to capture more details about the experience than positive ones: You remember the general feeling of a nice day at the beach, but you remember every little detail of the two seconds when that Buick crashed into you back in high school. Particularly traumatic memories appear to be captured by two separate parts of the brain: the hippocampus, the normal seat of memory, and the amygdala, one of the brain's emotional centers. People incapable of forming long-term memories thanks to hippocampal damage can nonetheless form subconscious memories of traumatic events if their amygdala is intact. Someone suffering from the Memento condition would likely have a feeling of general unease encountering a person or a situation that had caused them harm in the past, though they wouldn't be able to put their finger on what was making them uncomfortable. In Eternal Sunshine, something like this happens. There are several instances in the movie where Clementine appears to have a trace emotional memory of an event that has been wiped from her waking mind.

Eternal Sunshine plays on this idea of traumatic memories being stored in separate regions of the brain in another way, too. In the dazzling, mind-bending sequence at the center of the film, as Joel's memories of Clementine are being steadily eliminated, the unconscious Joel decides that he doesn't want to go through with the erasure after all. Unable to wake himself up, he embarks on a kind of psychic journey with a remembered Clementine, trying to escape the high-tech censor that's steadily stripping away his recollection. As the situation gets increasingly desperate, Clementine suggests burying a memory of her in some place in his brain that she doesn't belong, buried far away from the probing scanner. She suggests a moment of intense humiliation from Joel's youth, and in a flash they're in a memory of a Joel's mother walking in on teenage Joel masturbating.

The fact that Joel is re-experiencing these memories as they're being deleted is consistent with one influential recent theory about how targeted memory erasure might be possible.

For a long time, memory researchers assumed that memories were like volumes stored in a library. When your brain remembered something, it was simply searching through the stacks and then reading aloud from whatever passage it discovered. But some scientists now believe that memories effectively get rewritten every time they're activated, thanks to a process called reconsolidation. To create a synaptic connection between two neurons—the associative link that is at the heart of all neuronal learning—you need protein synthesis. Studies on rats suggest that if you block protein synthesis during the execution of learned behavior—pushing a lever to get food, for instance—the learned behavior disappears. It appears that instead of simply recalling a memory that had been forged days or months ago, the brain is forging it all over again, in a new associative context. In a sense, when we remember something, we create a new memory, one that is shaped by the changes that have happened to our brain since the memory last occurred to us.

Theoretically, if you could block protein synthesis in a human brain while triggering a memory, you could make a targeted erasure. The technicians at Lacuna Inc. appear to be doing something along these lines in the film. When Joel first arrives, he's asked to bring in all the objects he associates with Clementine, and he's recorded giving a long description of all his thoughts and feelings about her. While he's exploring these memories of his ex-girlfriend, the techies scan his brain activity with a machine that looks suspiciously like a salon hair dryer but that generates images similar to a real fMRI machine. They refer to this process as making a "map of Clementine." The next day they give Joel some kind of pill that knocks him out and systematically re-triggers all the memories they've recorded. As they're re-triggered, the memories disintegrate while a machine erases them. There's no science babble in the mix, but the basic sequence is broadly compatible with the reconsolidation theory.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is remarkably in sync with modern neuroscience, but in one respect the film put its emphasis in the wrong place. To be fair, it's a failing shared with a host of recent films about memory loss: Memento, 50 First Dates, Paycheck. Selective erasure of memories may not be a feasible procedure in the near future, but cosmetic memory enhancement is likely to be a reality in the next 10 years, just as targeted mood enhancers like Prozac have become commonplace over the past 10. You won't be able to sharpen your memory of a single person, but you may well be able to take a pill that will increase your general faculties of recollection. This is the ultimate irony of Eternal Sunshine and films like it. While the culture frets over the perils of high-tech erasure, we should really be worrying about the opposite: what will happen when we remember too much.
There are no others, there is only us.
06-04-2010, 02:21 PM, (This post was last modified: 06-04-2010, 02:34 PM by ---.)
RE: The pill that can wipe out those painful memories
It's a luciferian deal. It's bad juju journalism advertising a new world most of us may not even see possibly.
Part of this trip called mortal life is that there is almost always suffering in the experience's a prerequisite, I believe unless one happens to be a total sociopath that has had every wish granted since taking a first breath and therefore not caring about even the people closest to them dying then there will be suffering experienced along the way.I am not advocating suffering but it seemed to be hardwired. Only absolute atheists completely uncritical of "progress" could venerate this product without reservation, surely? Otherwise there is a reason for the experience not being constant joy. It may sound puritanical but it's just the way it is imo- it's a check and balance in the struggle for our soul maybe. To "eleviate" suffering through chemical interventionism in this way is a thoroughly bad idea and the consequences for potential abuse of such technology probably would/will prove to be astronomical. I can see valid applications though, nevertheless JMO
06-04-2010, 02:56 PM,
RE: The pill that can wipe out those painful memories
Glad you picked up on it, my thoughts exactly. Everything leaves an imprint. A buried emotion or experience is never really buried, it can be dealt with but never erased. It works on levels both on the conscious and the subconscious and on levels and dimensions we are likely not aware of in our everyday lives. Its been referred to as witchcraft, spells, conditioning, trauma based mind control and programming. Conscious rejection, looking at stimuli (past and present) from different perspectives and filtering is the only method I am privy to in order to combat this bombardment, that and non-participation (killing the television is a good start). Anything deeper as far as deprogramming tactics?
There are no others, there is only us.
06-04-2010, 04:51 PM, (This post was last modified: 06-04-2010, 04:58 PM by ---.)
RE: The pill that can wipe out those painful memories
Quote:deprogramming tactics. anything deeper?

yes, don't believe everything you read/hear/watch.. from any point of view. find the roots of the memes and where possible the proofs and evaluate, then, at that stage at each and every step of the path.

Quote:Glad you picked up on it too

um.ok. Am I thinking correctly about it then? Did I say what you were thinking?
06-04-2010, 05:42 PM,
RE: The pill that can wipe out those painful memories
Correct or incorrect we're thinking along the same lines. I just posted a convincing floater to see where it went to take the temperature of the virtual hangout. Propaganda is propaganda whether framed in a movie, pharma advertisment or a 'science' paper by msn.
There are no others, there is only us.

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