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Electroshock Therapy Might Be Helpful In Erasing Painful Memories

Update Date: Dec 24, 2013 09:29 AM EST

A new electroshock therapy might be possible according to a new research, which can be used in erasing unwanted memories.

The present theory regarding the memory formation is that people have a thin window of time between the actual memory formation and storing it for later recalling. A possible way to interrupt the reconsolidation process might be to use shock therapy within that space.

A new study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience showed how it was possible to manipulate the memories through electricity just after they were recalled. Total of 42 severely depressed patients participated in the study who all agreed to undergo electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

“This provides very strong and compelling evidence that memories in the human brain undergo reconsolidation, and that a window of opportunity exists to treat bad memories,” Daniela Schiller, a neuroscientist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York who studies memory reconsolidation, said in the news release.

However ECT has been known for leaving ill effects on recall in general and is reserved strictly fro the most intractable cases.

The findings opens up a new prospect of ways for treating patients with severe mental illness. The study can also lead to new treatments for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depressions.

“Many randomized clinical trials crystallize the indications for ECT where its efficacy is unsurpassed by other treatments,” Dr. Ottosson wrote in Psychiatric Times.

“The effective indications are major depression, especially its psychotic form, and catatonia, especially its malignant form. Electroconvulsive therapy also relieves severe mania and some forms of schizophrenia. The risk of suicide decreases after ECT. In these conditions, ECT complies with the principle of beneficence.”

However before the practicals go on a mass level, an extensive research is needed in the subject, noted lead researchers Marijn Kroes. “The ability to permanently alter these types of memories might lead to novel, better treatments,” he added in the press release.

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