October 23, 2008
Selective Memory Loss Possible With Protein In Mice

At least in mice overexpression of protein αCaMKII while recalling a memory causes the extinction of that memory.

Dr. Tsien's research team, in collaboration with scientists at East China Normal University in Shanghai, were able to eliminate new and old memories alike by over-expressing a protein critical to brain cell communication just as the memory was recalled, according to research featured on the cover of the Oct. 23 issue of Neuron.

Dr. Tsien had already created a mouse that couldn't form memories by eliminating the NMDA receptor, which receives messages from other neurons. He then garnered international acclaim by making "Doogie," a smart mouse in which a subunit of the NMDA receptor is over-expressed. Younger brains have higher amounts of this NR2B subunit which leaves communication channels between brain cells open longer. That is why young people can learn faster than older adults.

This time he was examining downstream cascades of the NMDA receptor to learn more about memory formation. An abundant protein found only in the brain, called αCaMKII, was a logical place to look because it's a major signaling molecule for the NMDA receptor. He found that when he over-expressed αCaMKII while a memory was being recalled, that single memory was eliminated.

While some might want to suppress traumatic haunting memories consider the mischief possible by suppressing memories. A government that no longer trusts a secret agent might want to suppress the memories of that agent before firing him. This brings to mind Tommy Lee Jones' character retiring to a post office without his memories. All those people in Men In Black who had their memories suppressed with a neuralizer might some day have real world equivalents.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 October 23 12:37 AM  Brain Memory

Faruq Arshad said at October 23, 2008 4:11 AM:

The counter-part to extinguishing memories is creating false memories. Maybe people can have memories of having holidays in exotic places placed in their brains for a cost.

Audacious Epigone said at October 24, 2008 4:43 AM:

When I retire, I'd love to have the ability to erase the memories of all the RPGing I've done. Then, starting my library over, I'd be entertained until death.

Faruq Arshad said at October 24, 2008 1:21 PM:

That's a very interesting idea, to delete memories of stuff you've already done,and then redoing the activities,like surfing the web for the first time,again,and not feel so bored and jaded.

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