Magazine
Latest Issue

Lab report

Erasing bad memories sounds like something from science fiction. Yet treatments exist and new research may improve them still further

By Philip Ball   May 2009

Memories are made of this

Exposure therapy, in which bad memories or phobias are extinguished through repeated exposure to a similar but innocuous stimulus, sounds like a lazy science-fiction trope based on too much reading of A Clockwork Orange. But it seems to work, and has been used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in war veterans. More surprising is the fact that certain drugs can have the same effect: a study in 2000 showed that rats given a stimulus to evoke an unpleasant association while receiving such a drug seem to lose the bad memory forever. The effect suggests that…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect