According to a report by The Guardian, a prolonged research on mice showed that scientists can increase or reduce the effectiveness of a particular memory from the brain.
Scientists are looking forward to a hopeful situation where by applying this method they will be able to help those with cognitive decline or post-traumatic stress disorder by removing fearful memories.
Co-author of the research from the University of California, Jun-Hyeong Cho said, “We can use the same approach to selectively manipulate only the pathological fear memory while preserving all other adaptive fear memories which are necessary for our daily lives.”
Through the study involving mice, the researchers examined the trails between the emotion-producing amygdala region of the brain and the portion that produces particular sounds. They played a series of high-pitched and low-pitched tones and as a result, the mice’s feet with electrodes got shocks due to the high-pitched tones.
According to Cho, “These mice are special in that we can label or tag specific pathways that convey certain signals to the amygdala so that we can identify which pathways are really modified as the mice learn to fear a particular sound…..It is like a bundle of phone lines….Each phone line conveys certain auditory information to the amygdala.”
The research team eventually came up with a possible method to use for removing disturbing and harrowing memories (optogenetics). There were already several medications which were being used from before for the same purpose.
This technique basically uses a virus to introduce genes into selective neurons in the brains of the mice that were involved in the “high-pitch” pathways.
After the virus entered the cells, the genes start producing proteins which reacted to light, letting the researchers regulate the activity of the neurons.
Taking mice having dreadful memories, the team uncovered the neurons involved in the “high-pitch” pathway to low-frequency light – a method which weakens the networks between the brain’s neuron transmitters.
“It permanently erases the fear memory. We no longer see the relapse of fear.” Cho said. Sumantra Chattarji, an expert on memory at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India told New Scientist, “The fact that you can parcel out these memories and manipulate them in a predictable fashion is remarkable.”
Another research conducted by an MIT scientist in 2015, discovered that in animals which had advanced PTSD symptoms following a chronic trauma and a disturbing event, serotonin endorsed the process of memory consolidation. As the researchers jammed the amygdala cells’ communications with serotonin after shock, the harassed animals did not mature PTSD symptoms. However blocking serotonin in calm animals after trauma did not produce any effect.
In recent times a scientist from MIT and a team in Japan invented how memories were shaped concurrently in the hippocampus and the cortex by examining how memories reacted to an electric shock. In other words, one is for the present short-term and the second is for the long-term.
It has also been discovered that memories are passed onto each other through generations.
During the ’50s to there was a series of CIA mind control virtual programs including BLUEBIRD, ARTICHOKE, MKULTRA, and MKNAOMI. The CIA, to wipe memories from their subjects took the help of drugs, electric shock, high-pitched sound and other torture techniques.
Dr. Ewen Cameron was partly supported by the CIA during project MKULTRA and used electrodes to destroy the memories from his unaware patients’ brains during the 1950s. This torturous method was called “psychic driving.”
After these atrocious electric shocks, medications were given to the test subjects to put them into days of long delirious sleep. Cameron would then give them the audio tapes he made by repeating certain phrases thousands of times, with the hope of creating new entities within them.
A 2012 complaint filed by experts’ groups, against the CIA and the DOD, refers to Cameron’s techniques. The suit also states that two researchers, Dr. Louis West and Dr. Jose Delgado, working together under the early CIA MKULTRA 95, applied two procedures: brain implants (“”) and RHIC-EDOM (Radio Hypnotic Intracerebral Control-Electronic Dissolution of Memory) to control the minds of patients. Basically, they used to erase memories, and implant false memories that never happened.
The CIA finally established that anxiety and sleep deprivation can turn people more vulnerable to false memories.
Neuroscientists in France entrenched false memories into the brains of sleeping mice in 2015. Using electrodes to directly arouse and record the activity of nerve cells, they developed false associative memories that persisted while the animals dozed off and then influenced their behavior when they finally woke up. MIT scientist also attained the same result using mice in a similar trial in 2013.
In the meantime, Japanese researchers have developed a tactic to graft hallucinations into people’s brains, changing the technique they understand the world and possibly even their ideas.
Let us know how you think about the method in the comments section below.