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Can You Erase Bad Memories?

Can You Erase Bad Memories?

Whether it’s from an awful breakup or a
traumatic life event, some memories can haunt us for our entire lives. But, what if there
was a way that you could completely forget these all together? Can science erase your
bad memories? Memory is an incredibly complex process; while
scientists used to believe it was like a filing cabinet and particular memories were stored
in different sections of the brain, we now know this is incorrect. In fact, each memory
is a brain wide process. If you end up remembering this video, it’s because the cells in your
brain are being triggered and fired, building new connections and links and literally rewiring
the circuitry of your mind. And this change is partially facilitated by proteins in the
brain. So what if the proteins aren’t available?
Simply put, memories can’t be made. Seriously – scientists have tested this by giving animals
drugs that prevent these proteins from forming. As a result the animals have no recollection
of the things that took place shortly after the drug was taken. From this research, scientists actually found
a way to target long term memories for deletion. You see, every single time you remember a
memory, your brain is once again firing and rewiring. In fact, each time you reflect on
a memory, you are literally physically changing that memory in your mind. And each time that
memory is altered a little, reflecting your current thoughts. Remembering is an act of
creation and imagining, meaning the more you reflect on old memories, the less accurate
they become. And scientists have actually quantified this
change. After 9/11, hundreds of people were asked about their memories of the dreadful
day. A year later, 37% of the details had changed. By 2004, nearly 50% of the details
had changed or gone missing. And because memories are formed and rebuilt every time, if you
administer the protein inhibiting drug while recalling a memory, the memory can be effectively
removed. To test this, scientists took lab rats and
played a sound for them, shortly followed by an electric shock. After doing this multiple
times, the rats quickly learned that if they heard the sound, a shock was soon to follow.
As a result, they would stress up and freeze every time they heard it. Months later, these
rats would still respond to the noise; however, if they administered the drug first, the rats
would lose the memory of the sound, and simply continue on. They had lost their memory of
that specific noise. To be sure the drug wasn’t just causing large scale brain damage, scientists
repeated these experiments with multiple tones. Both sounds would warn for a shock, and eventually
the mice would fear both. But if they administered the drug and played only one of the sounds,
the mice would only forget that tone, while still remaining fearful of the other. Over time scientists have discovered specific
drugs to target particular proteins across different parts of the brain. So, if you experience
a terrible emotion with a memory, then targeting a protein in the emotional regions of the
brain can help to remove that connection alone. Which could be an amazing tool, especially
for patients suffering from something like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But while
these drugs are in the very early stages, the question remains; if you were given a
‘forgetting pill’ would you be willing to take it? Special thanks to for supporting
this episode and giving you a free audio book of your choice at Audible
is the leading provider of audiobooks with over 150,000 downloadable titles across all
types of literature. We recommend the book “Undeniable: Evolution and the science of
creation” by the one and only Bill Nye the Science Guy who we did a video with on this
channel a while back! You can download this audio book or another of your choice, for
free, at And with a subscription you get one free book a month! Special thanks
Audible for making these videos possible! And subscribe for more weekly science videos!

2 comments on “Can You Erase Bad Memories?

  1. I can't completely erase a memory but just like the video said erase the connections that will lead you to that memory. This would make the traumatic memory foggy and somewhat vague so you won't remember it completely. It takes practice but if you can do it to some major traumatic event that you can do it to some minor events. This would not erase the memory but again as I said it will make it foggy and when it is foggy don't think about it.

    But be very careful if you somehow encounter an essential object regarding that traumatic event that would lead you to remember that traumatic event. So might as well delete it all or throw it all.

    Like for instance, a picture of you and your ex, if you want not to remember the pain delete those. And don't ever ever ever ever ever make an act that would lead you to remember her or him.

    Just that the fact that I am writing this is making me remember some things so might as well stop now. But again as I said its foggy and not painful.

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