The notion of “deleting” bad memories has been somewhat of a pop-culture wishlist staple for a long time, and was a huge plot point in the Jim Carrey/Kate Winslet film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
In partially encouraging, partially terrifying news, scientists have identified a protein kinase in marine snails that could one day be instrumental in erasing bad memories from our recall, sparing the trauma of reliving the upsetting moments:
Scientists found they could erase long-term memories in the snails by inhibiting the activity of a specific protein kinase called PKM —molecules that chemically modify proteins.
“I think we will be able to alter memories someday to reduce the trauma from our brains,” said the study’s senior author, David Glanzman, a UCLA professor of integrative biology and physiology and of neurobiology.
It may seem that snail memories are far less complex than those of humans, but Glanzman says the similarities indicate promise in similar human circumstances:
“Almost all the processes that are involved in memory in the snail also have been shown to be involved in memory in the brains of mammals,” Glanzman said.
The study was published in the April 27th issue of Journal of Neuroscience.