Hold on to your memories, because they could be changed.

According to new research, memories are “pliable if you know what regions of the brain to stimulate,” – this finding could be something that could help those who suffer from depression, anxiety, or PTSD (“How to enhance”, 2019).

This can be done by stimulating the hippocampus, which is important for storing sensory or emotional information – memories are stored by a unique combination of brain cells, so if one were to alter those combinations, change would be seen (“How to enhance”, 2019).

“‘Many psychiatric disorders, especially PTSD, are based on the idea that after there’s a really traumatic experience, the person isn’t able to move on because they recall their fear over and over again .’” stated Briana Chen, author of the study (“How to enhance”, 2019).

To test this stimulation theory, researchers found that if they stimulated the top part of the brain’s hippocampus, that negative memories can be “stripped of their emotional oomph”, but if you stimulate the bottom, the memories negative emotional impact will worsen. This was specifically tested with mice. Positive memories would be defined by meeting another mouse that one could mate with, while negative memories could be defined by receiving an electrical shock to ones paw (“How to enhance”, 2019).

While mice and humans are very different, this research is the first step to identifying how memory alteration in humans could become reality.

“‘If we can create a two-way street to compare how memory works in mice and in humans, we can then ask specific questions [in mice] about how and why memories can have positive or negative effects on psychological health,’”  (“How to enhance”, 2019).

Reference: Boston University. (2019, May 23). How to enhance or suppress memories: Stimulating different parts of the brain can dial up or down a specific memory’s emotional oomph, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 9, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190523143040.htm

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