Scientists are working on a way to help people forget bad memories, and they just tested it on 60 people who were extremely sad.
Dr. Alain Brunet’s research on manipulating memory at McGill University in Canada is expected to bring about a groundbreaking technology to relieve painful memories.
The 60 volunteers who signed up for the psychiatric study all experienced the same emotion. Their partner’s betrayal ended their romantic relationship and everyone wanted to forget it.
Using the inexpensive blood pressure drug propranolol, researchers asked volunteers to recall painful memories by reading highly detailed descriptions they had written about their breakups, and then asked them how they felt.
The researchers had them do this four to six times, while taking propranolol, in an effort to reduce the strength of the memory by preventing the changes in synapses needed to consolidate the memory and reactivate it.
Brunet believes that propranolol can reduce the emotional pain associated with memories and can be taken at any time after the event.
According to the report, although the study has been completed, its results have not yet been released and are pending peer review.
However, Brunet told a reporter from Canada’s National Post that the participants “can’t believe we were able to accomplish so much in such a short period of time.”
“They can turn the page. That’s what they’re telling us,” he said.
The study by McGill University researchers is based on the theory that memories are more susceptible when they are activated.
According to the report, Brunet believes that after 2 to 5 hours of recalling past events, the memory can be modified and then re-stored or “reintegrated”.
The report pointed out that propranolol is thought to prevent proteins in the brain from re-stored memories as before, which means that some details of the memory will be lost.