Turning Bad Memories Into Good May Be Just A Trick Of The Light

Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

The bad memories of mice have been turned into good ones by using conditioning and light, say US scientists.

The male mice were conditioned to associate a particular location with the bad memory of an electric shock, and the scientists were able to make the animals avoid the location by activating the memory using light to stimulate the relevant brain cells.

The same mice were then reconditioned to associate the light-based activation of those brain cells with a pleasant experience – a visit from Mrs mouse – and were no longer fearful of the original location.

The work suggests emotional memories can be re-written in the brain, at least in mice.

The study by Susumu Tonegawa of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and colleagues is published in the journal Nature.

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