One Day, Scientists May Be Able To Erase Negative Memories In Your Brain While You Sleep

What if scientists could sneak into your brain while you’re sleeping and erase painful memories — or turn them into happy ones? What sounds like something out of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” could be a reality sooner than you might expect.

Of course, nobody’s saying the technique will be used to help people get over a bad breakup. But it just might change the lives of those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

In pioneering new research, neuroscientists from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and ESPCI ParisTech manipulated memories in sleeping mice, using paired electrodes inserted into the brain to turn neutral memories into positive ones.

The new discovery has members of the scientific community buzzing.

“This research demonstrates a remarkable level of mastery over the cognitive machinery that gives rise to memories,” Steve Ramirez, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has conducted landmark research on memory manipulation, told The Huffington Post in an email.

In the experiment, the researchers placed one electrode in the hippocampus, a brain region associated with spatial memory. The other was placed in the brain’s so-called “reward center.”

First, they monitored the brain activity of each mouse as it roamed around an “exploration area.” As the mouse stored memories of different locations in the exploration area, different neurons in the hippocampus lit up, indicating that spatial information was being recorded.

Then, the researchers monitored activity of the hippocampus at night as it consolidated memories of different locations the mouse had visited that day.

They placed an electrode on a neuron that had lit up in one particular corner of the cage earlier that day. When that memory was being processed, the researchers used another electrode to stimulate the brain’s reward center, making the mouse associate —> Read More