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Researchers Use Electroconvulsive Therapy To Disrupt Recall of Nasty Events 96

Posted by samzenpus
from the zap-the-pain-away dept.
ananyo writes "In the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, unhappy lovers undergo an experimental brain treatment to erase all memories of each other from their minds. No such fix exists for real-life couples, but researchers report in Nature Neuroscience that a targeted medical intervention helps to reduce specific negative memories in patients who are depressed. The technique, called electroconvulsive (ECT) or electroshock therapy, induces seizures by passing current into the brain through electrode pads placed on the scalp. Despite its sometimes negative reputation, ECT is an effective last-resort treatment for severe depression, and is used today in combination with anaesthesia and muscle relaxants. Marijn Kroes, a neuroscientist at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, and his colleagues found that by strategically timing ECT bursts, they could target and disrupt patients' memory of a disturbing episode."
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Researchers Use Electroconvulsive Therapy To Disrupt Recall of Nasty Events

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  • by Akratist (1080775) on Monday December 23, 2013 @09:52AM (#45766225)
    I can understand that something like this would be a boon to veterans with PTSD or survivors of rape or other violent episodes. However, I wonder if this will eventually get more widespread and become used for trivial things, like removing memories of a bad breakup or other parts of life which might be painful, but tolerable. It has been noted here and there before that bouts of depression have made people more artistically productive, but this can disappear with medication...if we likewise remove the negative memories, are we going to start missing heuristics that make us work to improve our lives?
  • Adverse effects (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SternisheFan (2529412) on Monday December 23, 2013 @10:12AM (#45766369)
    From Wikipedia: Liz Spikol, the senior contributing editor of Philadelphia Weekly, wrote of her ECT in 1996

    "Not only was the ECT ineffective, it was incredibly damaging to my cognitive functioning and memory. But sometimes it's hard to be sure of yourself when everyone 'credible' — scientists, ECT docs, researchers — are telling you that your reality isn't real. How many times have I been told my memory loss wasn't due to ECT but to depression? How many times have I been told that, like a lot of other consumers, I must be perceiving this incorrectly? How many times have people told me that my feelings of trauma related to the ECT are misplaced and unusual? It's as if I was raped and people kept telling me not to be upset—that it wasn't that bad."

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