Think back to your most embarrassing moment. Sometimes it's easier to imagine being happier if you could forget that it ever happened. Now, one psychologist from Uppsala University in Sweden has indicated that the ability just might be possible.
Thomas Agren was the doctoral student at the Department of Psychology who performed the study under the supervision of Mats Frederikson and Tomas Furmark. The study showed that it was possible to remove fear from the brain.
As it is currently understood, there are two types of memories: short-term and long-term. In order to convert a short-term memory into a long-term one, it is reconsolidated. That means that, in your embarrassing memory of which you thought earlier, you are not remembering the actual event - but rather the memory of your earlier memories of the event. That consolidation process is aided by the production of proteins. Agren and his professors theorized that, if that consolidation process could be interrupted, the content of the long-term memory could be altered.
Agren conducted a vindictive study in which participants were shown a neutral picture, like of a house. Every time participants saw this house, they would receive an electric shock. After enough shocks, participants began to feel fearful of the house, rather than neutral like they had felt earlier. Then researchers would show participants the picture with no shock, just to see if they were still scared. In the control group, their fear memories were allowed to consolidate into long-term memories. The experimental group's memory consolidation process was disrupted.
In the experimental group, their fear evaporated. The picture was again neutral to them. Brain scanners found that the memory had disappeared from the portion of the brain, the nuclear group of the amygdala, which normally traces fearful memories.
Agren, Frederikson, and Furmark hope that their research can be used for people who have severe anxiety, phobias, and PTSD. Their study was published in Science.
Published by Medicaldaily.com