Can flashes of light delete bad memories?


London - Traumatic memories could soon be erased in the blink of an eye.

Scientists claim they effectively reversed fearful reactions to disturbing memories in mice by shining flashes of light into their eyes.

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Traumatic memories could soon be erased in the blink of an eye.

The finding could lead to a new treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder or phobias, they said.

In the experiment, neurologists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US gave a group of mice “fear” memories by giving them an electric shock.

At the same time the team monitored which brain nerve cells – called neurons – were activated. They reactivated the memory by shining pulses of light in the mice’s eyes to stimulate the neurons.

The team then altered the wavelength of the light to trigger neurons in a different part of the mouse’s brain, effectively reversing the emotional impact of the memory. So the mice no longer showed fear when recalling the shocks.

The team, whose work is published in journal Nature, said: “In the future, one may be able to develop methods that help people to remember positive memories more strongly than negative ones.” - Daily Mail

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