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How to fix traumatic memories?

By Tim Sandle     Jan 25, 2014 in Science
Is it possible to take traumatic memories disappear? A group of scientists think that this might be possible for the most recent, trauma-inducing events.
A research group think that one day it will be possible to modify recent memories in the presence of a drug that induces epigenetic changes to DNA. Researchers from MIT have now shown that a DNA modification that is controlled in part by the enzyme histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2) helps make recent memories more prone to reconsolidation (that is, making more recent memories more prone to being "recalled" as something "less traumatic").
The research team have come to this conclusion after animal trials. In their study, according to the LA Times, the scientists trained mice to fear a cage or a tone by administering a foot shock in the cage or while the tone was played. They then returned the mice to the cage or played the tone, so the animals would recall the fearful memory, tried to extinguish the memory by exposing the mice to the "trigger" over three days.
They next compared the reactions of mice that had experienced the foot shock one or 30 days before. They discovered that fear could be extinguished in mice that had recently been exposed to the foot shock, but not in the mice where the memory had been in place longer.
Next the group looked at the biochemistry. Here they found that, after memory recall, with the recent fearful memory, histone 3 — one of the proteins around which DNA is packaged — was more "active" compared to both naïve mice and to mice in which the memory was more remote.
The researchers also noted, Science Now points out, that as memories age, this mechanism fails. Thus they consider this to the be site to work on for future drug treatments for tackling recent, traumatic memories. Whether this will ever lead to a "drug for bad memories," is uncertain. An earlier report in Digital Journal highlights research work where scientists managed to selectively erase methamphetamine-related memories in mice and rats.
The research has been published in the journal Cell, in a paper titled "Epigenetic Priming of Memory Updating during Reconsolidation to Attenuate Remote Fear Memories."
More about Traumatic memories, Ptsd, Memories, Bad memories, Fear
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