A team of Dutch neuroscientists recently devised an electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to "target and disrupt patients' memory of a disturbing episode." Nature explains how patients were showed two traumatic narratives in a slideshow and then subjected to the new technique:
The test was conducted on 42 patients with severe depression, so there's a chance it could work differently on normal patients. It's also worth pointing out that ECT is no fun. It induces seizures and, well, doctors are shocking patients' brains with electricity.
A breakthrough like this was due, though. For years, scientists have been saying we're on the cusp of developing a way to erase memories, and last year, they successfully erased the memories of sleeping mice. Then, just a few months ago, they managed to identify the gene that helps us forget. But a point-and-click method for erasing particular memories, that's proved elusive. Until now.
As is often the case with groundbreaking research, the next step is more research. But the scientists involved in the field of memory erasure hold out hope that advances like these will lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of conditions like severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. After all, sometimes, ignorance really is bliss. More here.