Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute in Florida have been awarded a $2.3 million grant to erase bad memories – particularly the kind that cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The five-year study, funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, will be lead by Courtney Miller, an associate professor at the Institute. Miller and colleagues previously successfully erased dangerous memories in mice and rats, without affecting other benign memories.
Although many mechanisms have been identified for how memories form, only a few mechanisms that store memories are known. Researchers will investigate whether microRNA, which suppresses the production of protein, is capable of coordinating the complex changes required for the brain to maintain the actin-based structural integrity of a long-lasting memory.
“Our study will investigate the microRNA profile of a PTSD-like memory, with the idea that the persistence of a traumatic memory is maintained by the recruitment of a unique set of microRNAs within the amygdala–the brain’s emotional memory center and a critical participant in PTSD,” Miller said in a news release.
The researchers hope that better understanding how memories are stored will help point them to new targets for deleting harmful memories and also preserving fading memory seen in cognitive decline.