"Happy thoughts"... coming soon to a store near you.

Just like in the movie "Total Recall" or "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind", erasing bad memories could be a rendered service soon. Scientists at John Hopkins University, can now erase traumatic memories from the brains of mice.  They are looking to develop a drug that will also work on humans.

Researchers found that by removing a particular protein in a specific part of the brain, they could permanently delete traumatic memories on a molecular level.

The team, led by Richard L. Huganir, Ph.D., professor and director of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and postdoctoral fellow Roger Clem, used loud, sudden noises to instill fear in their test subjects. Huganir and Clem found that the amygdala, the part of the brain "known to underlay so-called fear conditioning", showed the most activity during the experiment.

“When a traumatic event occurs, it creates a fearful memory that can last a lifetime and have a debilitating effect on a person’s life,” said Huganir. “Our finding describing these molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in that process raises the possibility of manipulating those mechanisms with drugs to enhance behavioral therapy for such conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Taking it a step further, the scientists examined the proteins in the nerve cells and found increases in the amount of proteins-- calcium-permeable AMPARs.

According to Huganir, he and Clem discovered that the proteins were uniquely unstable and removable from the nerve cells. Huganir believes that by removing the proteins and weakening the connections in the brain created by the trauma, they can erase the memory itself.

“This may sound like science fiction, the ability to selectively erase memories,” says Huganir. “But this may one day be applicable for the treatment of debilitating fearful memories in people, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome associated with war, rape or other traumatic events.”

A report, written by the duo and published in the October 28 edition of the Science Express, can be found here.

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