Research press release


Nature Neuroscience

Altering recalled emotional memories


Marijn Kroesたちは、電気痙攣療法(ECT)を受けているうつ状態の患者39人について記憶状況を調べた。患者らは情緒的に不愉快な話を2つ、音声付きのスライドショーの形式で教えられた。1週間後に、その話のスライドのうち一部を見せて患者らの記憶を呼び起こし、一部の患者にはその直後にECTを施した。翌日、最初のスライドのうち抜けていた部分の話の内容を述べるように患者に促したところ、呼び起こした記憶は、ECT処置を受けた患者ではあまり正確ではなく、2回目に見た話の内容はこの処置の影響を受けていなかった。


Emotional memories in humans may be disrupted using electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) shortly after they are recalled, reports a study published online this week in Nature Neuroscience.

Marijn Kroes and colleagues tested memory performance in 39 depressed patients undergoing electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Patients were taught two emotionally unpleasant stories, presented in the form of a slideshow with a voice narrative. A week later, the patients’ memories were cued by presenting a partially covered version of the first slide of the story, and immediately afterwards some of the patients were given ECT. A day later, when the patients were asked to report the events behind the covered portion of the first slide, the authors found that the memory for the recalled events was less accurate in those who had received the ECT, whereas memory for the second, non-recalled story was not affected by this procedure.

These results suggest that ECT can selectively affect emotional memory consolidation in a time-dependent manner, and that it could be used to specifically induce amnesia for aversive or depressive memories.

doi: 10.1038/nn.3609

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