[Ibogaine] Erasing memories and its potential for addiction treatment

Kirk captkirk at clear.net.nz
Thu Nov 3 00:46:00 EST 2005

Ohh I have yet to see Eternal.... wotsits!!!
Thanks! Very interesting!
How are you doing Boris???
Good to see you again
Kirk xx

-----Original Message-----
From: Boris Leshinsky [mailto:bleshins at bigpond.net.au] 
Sent: Thursday, 3 November 2005 6:39 p.m.
To: ibogaine at mindvox.com
Subject: [Ibogaine] Erasing memories and its potential for addiction


Choose to forget

November 3, 2005

Manipulating memory is now a reality, writes Wendy Champagne.

The American novelist William Faulkner said: "The past is never dead. It's
not even past." Thanks to memory we have a living history, an identity. Yet
given the opportunity, how many of us would go the way of Jim Carrey in
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and delete or alter that archive of
embarrassing, painful or debilitating memories?

You only have to look at the super-charged growth of investment in the brain
industry - which is developing devices and drugs - over the past five years
to realise that even if we choose not to use it, we will soon have the
ability to make memories disappear.

A 2001 study by the World Health Organisation revealed that more than a
fifth of the world's population suffers a brain-related illness; that makes
neuroscience this century's hot-ticket research area.

A few years ago, at McGill University in Canada, memory research took a
giant leap forward when Dr Karim Nader, from its psychology department,
"rediscovered reconsolidation", dispelling the notion that long-term memory
was a fixed entity.

Memories were thought to exist in an unstable state and over time - a number
of hours - they "consolidated" and stayed that way forever. Nader
demonstrated when we retrieve a memory it is again transformed into a
vulnerable state where it can be manipulated or lost.

"Experimenting with rats we reactivated a long-term memory and then, using
the drug propranolol, blocked protein synthesis in the amygdala - one of the
systems crucial for learning and consolidating memories of fearful events -
and the rats were no longer afraid," Nader says. "It was bizarre. It should
have been a fixed memory."

Five years later, the same process has been demonstrated in snails, honey
bees, earthworms, crabs and, last year, in humans. In September alone there
were two separate memory reconsolidation studies published in the US
neuroscience journal Neuron. One showed how protein inhibitors can
selectively disrupt memories associated with cocaine use - the memory of
past highs, for example - which could become the basis of a treatment for

The idea, Nader says, is not to eliminate the memory but neutralise the
emotional boost we give a memory when we recall it. He believes there are
potential applications for this kind of treatment in post traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic pain, epilepsy,
addiction or even performance anxiety.

Yet while this research may offer tremendous hope for the treatment of
neurological and psychiatric disease, it also has tremendous potential for
misuse. The day after Nader's first study was published a woman phoned his
lab and asked whether she could have memories of her abusive first husband
erased. "The grey area is quite grey," Nader says, "and somebody should
determine where we draw a line."

Australia has not yet engaged in a serious dialogue about these
neuro-ethical issues, but at the Centre for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics in
California freedom of thought is a central concern.

The centre's mission, says its director, Dr Wrye Sententia, is to safeguard
the rights of individuals who may wish to use new mind-augmenting drugs and
technologies. She admits the "genie is already out of the bag" when it comes
to public access to neurotechnologies, or brain pharmaceuticals called
"neuroceuticals", and predicts the growth of a consumer-driven marketplace
for cognitive therapies just like the industry that's developed around
plastic surgery.

While giving relief to people haunted by memories of war or abuse is
undoubtedly a positive, the ethical divide between using drugs to treat
memory disorders and making them available to healthy people for memory
enhancement - "cosmetic neurology" - is not clear-cut.

Professor Fred Mendelsohn, director of the Howard Florey Institute in
Melbourne, is building on a discovery he made about a system that aids
learning and memory in rats and mice.

He and his colleagues are trying to develop a molecule that mimics the
action of certain brain receptors in order to develop a drug that may help
people with memory deficits or disorders, but will potentially be useful in
normal brains as well.

Dr Sententia says this "Viagra for the mind" approach is occurring on
college campuses across the United States and Australia, where students take
Ritalin to improve learning functions.

Clinical trials of memory enhancers have been running in the US for some
years and,

according to Dr Sententia, the experimental results of one trial on older
men and women with mild cognitive impairment were so promising the subjects
wanted to stay on the drugs.

Will these marketable cognitive developments lead consumers to a Carrey-like
choice to have a bad memory erased forever?

"Erasing memory is just silly," Nader says. "You don't want to take things
away from people."

But the field is moving fast. "My bet is at some point in the next year or
two there is going to be some report testing reconsolidation in conditions
such as PTSD or drug addiction, and showing some degree of improvement."

Professor Mendelsohn is equally optimistic about his work, but remains
cautious: "We have a strong effect - we can start to see a pathway towards
developing it as a medicine - but we still have quite a lot of work to do."

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