Some memories can leave us dead for life. For example, the memory of a dog attack can leave even the most dog-loving person frightened by every pooch they come across. Fortunately, traumatic memories may not be permanent. In a new study, researchers have discovered that general anesthesia can weaken emotionally disturbing memories. The search means a routine anesthesia can potentially treat psychiatric disorders such as phobias and anxiety.
"This is the principle of principle," said Bryan Strange, a neuroscientist at the Technical Technical University of Madrid in Spain, who led the new research. "You can use an anesthetic to … specifically target and reduce emotional memories acquired in the past."
In a study published five years ago, Strange and his team showed that electrical convulsions – where an electric current passed over the crane causes an epileptic seizure – can damage memory in people with severe depression. The procedure is invasive and requires anesthesia, which made strange how much memory was weakened by the therapy and how much was caused by the anesthesia.
"If the general anesthesia was at least partially responsible for memory consolidation would be worth a try," he said.
Researchers recruited 50 people to come in for an endoscopy procedure, either a gastroscopy or colonoscopy, to participate in the study. Ca. One week before the procedure, the study participants saw a narrated slideshow on a laptop in the gastroenterology consulting room. The slideshow story starts with content that is emotionally neutral, but builds on a negative climax before returning to neutral. A mother and her son leave their house. They walk down the street. Then the slide show depicts a car accident. "When they cross the road, the boy is hit by a car without control, which kills him," the narrator tells. The next slide shows the hospital, the doctors and the boy's feet. The final glides, when viewed outside the context of the context, present emotionally neutral content as an image of an empty street again.
Just before the patients underwent anesthesia for their endoscopy procedure, the researchers revived the memories of some participants by showing them the first slide in the slide show. The researchers covered part of the slide with a mask and asked the participants what had been on the hidden part of the slide. When participants responded, doctors injected the anesthetic within two minutes. Scientists do not respond to the emotional memory of all participants.
When asked to answer multiple-choice questions about the story, participants who had re-activated memory before sedation had problems remembering the emotionally charged part of the story specifically, the researchers today report in the journal Science Advances . Participants who had not re-activated memory prior to sedation recalled the emotional section and they remembered neutral parts of history.
"The implication is that general anesthesia reduces activity in areas that are critical to emotional memory formation," Strange said.
Nevertheless, strange warns that they do not yet know how anesthesia would affect real-life memories, and by using an anesthetic to treat anxiety disorder or phobia, further testing would be required. But he says in view of the team's achievements: "There is reason to believe there would be an advantage."