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Health

Want To Erase Bad Memories? Researchers Eye New Therapy

Real-life advances toward "Eternal Sunshine" method
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(AP/FILE)

(AP/FILE)

CBS Los Angeles (con't)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Puberty, polyester and the 1970s: for most of us, there are some memories that are so painful you wish you could forget them.

In a development seemingly right out of the Jim Carrey movie “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind”, researchers say they have discovered how to wipe your brain clean of bad memories.

Richard Huganir, a professor and chair of neuroscience at the Hopkins School, explains how it works to KFWB’s Maggie McKay.

“We’re very interested in the possibility of developing drugs that will enhance the process of forgetting emotional trauma,” said Dr. Richard Huganir, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins.

Huganir and Roger Clem have just published their research in Science journal. The dynamic duo has spent the past year and a half focused on the area of the brain that copes with fear.

By using mice and rats as subjects and behavioral therapy, they’ve identified brain reaction at the onset of fear.

“We were particularly interested in what happened in the mice brain when they learn this fear,” Huganir said. “And then especially in this paper, [we were] interested in how you can reverse that process and erase that memory.”

The benefits could be far-reaching, potentially helping victims of traumatic events like plane crashes, soldiers in war, even first responders like Craig Coleman—a former Baltimore County paramedic who is haunted by the memory of a baby murdered in front of him.

“This new technique or this new therapy that Johns Hopkins is developing would be awesome because you won’t have to go through that hurt,” Coleman said.

“We think that using the technique that was employed in our paper that we’re really only erasing an emotional reaction,” Clem said.

The research has been tested in only mice so far. But the scientists working on it believe using it to help humans isn’t far away.


(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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