Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bad Memory Pill

Scientists at the University of Amsterdam believe they may have found a way to ease frightening memories using only blood pressure pills. When a fearful memory is recalled, it’s changed in a process called reconsolidation. This stage of recall has been shown to be susceptible to blood pressure medications called beta-adrenergetic receptor blockers. In their human studies, researchers showed pictures of spiders to test subjects. And just for a little sadistic thrill, they delivered a mild shock when each picture was shown, creating an even scarier memory. But subjects given a beta blocker had a greatly reduced fear response upon being shown the pictures again as opposed to those given placebo. I still don’t see how this is anything close to “erasing” bad memories, as some headlines about his study have claimed. If anything, the medication seems to only be reducing the stress and anxiety associated with a frightening memory. Still, this is potentially good news for people struggling with post traumatic stress disorder, as I am after having seen Pink Panther 2. More details here.

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