We Can Erase Mice Memories With a Flash of Light

And it might have major ramifications for the future of psychology.


In a rare case of using research mice to create something that might cure some of the trauma of being a research mouse, University of California scientists have created a way to wipe their tiny subjects’ memories using a flash of light.

Medical Xpress reports the University of California’s Ju Lu and Yi Zuo made the breakthrough after teaching a mouse to stay on top of a rolling pipe. Once the mouse had the trick down, they shone the light - using a newly designed optoprobe called an AS-PaRac - on the part of the brain that changed with the learning. The brain then reverted to its pre-learned state.

Researchers have managed to erase mouse brains using similar techniques, rarely targeting something this specific. Though when it is specific, it’s promising. After finding that memories created by psychostimulant drug use were inherently different than normal memories, researchers were able to delete meth addiction in the rodents. Another team was able to wipe out “fearful” memories, and even colored those they didn’t wipe entirely with positive emotions.

No one wants to go down the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind rabbit hole, but when you consider that we record 22 official veteran suicides every day and that an estimated 7.8 percent of Americans — mostly women — experience PTSD at some point in their lives, some selective forgetting could be healing.