November 10, 2009
Receptor Controls Long Term Memory Formation

A drug that turns off the nogo receptor 1 blocks long term memory formation in mice. Imagine a drug that did the same thing in humans. It would have all sorts of uses and abuses.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have discovered a mechanism that controls the brain's ability to create lasting memories. In experiments on genetically manipulated mice, they were able to switch on and off the animals' ability to form lasting memories by adding a substance to their drinking water. The findings, which are published in the scientific journal PNAS, are of potential significance to the future treatment of Alzheimer's and stroke.

It seems likely that drugs which block long term memory formation will be found. Criminals could use these drugs for all sorts of purposes. Commit a crime, force every witness (or victim) to down a drug (preferably liquid so they can't throw up to get it out of them), and then leave.

But then James Bond would get a gene therapy treatment that renders his nogo receptor 1 immune to the known memory blocker drugs.

A research team at Karolinska Institutet has now discovered that signalling via a receptor molecule called nogo receptor 1 (NgR1) in the nerve membrane plays a key part in this process. When nerve cells are activated, the gene for NgR1 is switched off, and the team suspected that this inactivation might be important in the creation of long-term memories. To test this hypothesis they created mice with an extra NgR1 gene that could remain active even when the normal NgR1 was switched off.

Technology enables competitions, struggles, and fights to take place at a higher level. In the long term will technology make society more or less stable?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 November 10 06:40 AM  Brain Memory

Lono said at November 10, 2009 7:34 AM:

This.... could be useful....


Lono said at November 10, 2009 7:43 AM:

I suppose I should clarify...

Imagine interrogating a criminal subject - using a multi-faceted, accurate, lie detector test - and say... waterboarding when they answer falsely.

Then follow up with the memory blocker - once the information is extracted - leaving the subject unaware that they spilled the beans - so to speak..

Of course - you'd need a plausible explanation for the loss of time - but I can imagine several scenarios that might work well.

And if you think I'm talking bout using this on patsies of Arab decent - well - you'd be wrong.

Flash Program said at November 10, 2009 10:08 PM:

I think the drug called versed disrupts long term memory formation for a few hours. I've heard it can be used along with other drugs during anesthesia procedures in hospitals, sometimes without telling patients.

Andrew Guenthner said at November 13, 2009 5:56 PM:

Sorry to ruin the speculative fun, but a memory-disrupting drug would be almost pointless for committing the kinds of criminal activities described. Human memory is not especially reliable to begin with, and the "cure" for long-term (but not short-term) memory loss -- writing -- was invented thousands of years ago. Given the spread of public and private video recording devices, lives chronicled in detail on social networking sites, and sophisticated data mining, I think a far bigger danger will be that too little -- rather than too much -- will be forgotten.

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