Friday, December 27, 2013

Trauma deleting therapy with electric shock

Recently, an amazing article was published. Kroes et al. at Radboud University presented an evidence regarding the effectiveness of electroconvulsive therapy on traumatic memory in Nature Neuroscience.

Nature Neuroscience: An electroconvulsive therapy procedure impairs reconsolidation of episodic memories in humans

They stated in this article that any specific memory fixed on a brain in the past could be deleted with electroshock. Electroshock to the human brain is utilized as a therapy for severe depression or psychosis. And it is well known that temporary amnesia often occurs to the patient after the therapy. However, we could not choose the memory to be deleted with electroshock.

According to the researchers, the memory in a remembering process is vulnerable. It resembles the fact that a hard disk in a process of writing information is easily broken due to power trouble. They demanded the participants to recall a traumatic memory just before the electroshock. As a result, the memory which the participants had tried to remember was successfully erased. The authors concluded that this result can be taken into practice of trauma care.

Since this is a preliminary study, I am not easily to believe the conclusion. In addition, some people may claim that deletion of the very memory should not resolve the problem of the patients with stress disorders. Nonetheless, it is possible that this kind of therapy will help such patients. As a clinician, I hope any effective therapies for the patients are soon realized.

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