Findings of Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) unveiled something unimaginable. And that jaw-dropping news is….
CUMC and McGill University suggest that there is a possibility to develop drugs to erase memories which triggers anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but, important memories of the past will not be affected. During emotional or any traumatic events myriad memories will be encoded, researchers affirmed that when there is traumatic experience the incidental or neutral information can trigger anxiety attacks long after.
Long term memories are created by brains by increasing the strength of connections between neurons and maintaining those connections for a long time. Researchers measured the strength of each connection and detected that the increase in the strength of each connection produced by different stimuli was maintained by a different form of a Protein Kinase M(PKM) molecule. By blocking one of the PKM molecules each memory could be erased without affecting the other.
The new study tested that hypothesis by stimulating two sensory neurons connected to a single motor neuron of the marine snail Aplysia; one sensory neuron was stimulated to induce an associative memory and the other to induce a non-associative memory.
“Memory erasure has the potential to alleviate PTSD and anxiety disorders by removing the non-associative memory that causes the maladaptive physiological response,” says Jiangyuan Hu, PhD, an associate research scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at CUMC and co-author of the paper. “By isolating the exact molecules that maintain non-associative memory, we may be able to develop drugs that can treat anxiety without affecting the patient’s normal memory of past events.”
The researchers say that their results could be useful in understanding human memory because vertebrates have similar versions of the Aplysia PKM proteins that participate in the formation of long-term memories. In addition, the PKM-protecting protein KIBRA is expressed in humans, and mutations of this gene produce intellectual disability.