Researchers have discovered a protein in the brain that may act as a biomarker for flexible memories. In other words, they may be able to determine which memories can be forgotten and which ones stick around for whatever reason.
Long-term memories are divided into two categories: fact-based memory, such as names, places, and events, and innate memory, such as emotions or skills.
Researchers believe that innate memories can be modified, and such research may be able to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The research team at the University of Cambridge found that the presence of a protein called shank acts as a support for receptors that determine the strength of communication between different neurons. As a result, if this protein deteriorates, memories become modifiable. However, if this protein was found, it would indicate that the memories were not degradable, which explains why propranolol does not always cause memory loss, although researchers have not yet determined whether it is directly involved in memory degradation. Or whether it is the product of a deeper interaction.
In 2004, researchers in New York were able to treat animals with propranolol to help them forget learned trauma, but the results were difficult to replicate.
In this new experiment, rats were trained to attach a clicker to a mild electric shock so that they would associate the click with fear.