Laser Erases Memories

To treat PTSD, anxieties, and enhance cognition



Scientists might be on the verge of developing a technology that can erase bad and traumatic memories from the human brain so that their emotional hold over one’s psyche is demolished, says Boston University neuroscientist Steve Ramirez, senior author among a team of collaborators in Current Biology.

The team says memory is pliable and can be shaped as long as one knows which regions of the hippocampus to stimulate. This will allow for personalized treatment for people haunted by their memories.

Hippocampus Memories

A memory researcher asserts that a cashew-shaped hippocampus holds the key to how memory exerts its hold on our psyches. Manipulating this part of the brain could offer therapeutic techniques for treating depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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The hippocampus stores sensory and emotional information that makes memories.

Each memory is distinct and stored with combinations of brain cells that contain all the environmental and emotional information associated with that memory. The hippocampus itself, although small, comprises of many different sub-regions all working in tandem to recall the elements of a specific memory.

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“Many psychiatric disorders, especially PTSD, are based on the idea that after there's a really traumatic experience, the person isn’t able to move on because they recall their fear over and over again,” says Briana Chen, first author of the paper, who is researching depression at Columbia University.

Read Part 2: Laser Treatment for Memory

Reference Briana K. Chen, Nathen J. Murawski, Christine Cincotta, Olivia McKissick, Abby Finkelstein, Anahita B. Hamidi, Emily Merfeld, Emily Doucette, Stephanie L. Grella, Monika Shpokayte, Yosif Zaki, Amanda Fortin, Steve Ramirez. Artificially Enhancing and Suppressing Hippocampus-Mediated Memories. Current Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.04.065
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