Scientists Are Able to Successfully Block Bad and Depressing Memories in Mice

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Depression is something that plagues countless Americans on a daily basis. Depression often causes individuals to see everything in a negative light and, in severe cases, can result in suicide. Dwelling on the bad memories simply intensifies the feelings of sadness. So, now scientists are hoping to mitigate the prior negative memories linked to depression by blocking them.

Instead of using human test subjects, McGill University studied mice that were found to exhibit depressive tendencies when compared to other mice. Granted, mice may not have as complex a brains as humans do, but scientists are hoping they can replicate their successful study on humans in the near future.

According to the researchers in the study, people or animals that suffer from depression have a greater chance of forming and storing more negative memories, which can often be triggered by conflict, the Daily Mail reported.

Originally, philosophers surmised that the brain was nothing more than a filing cabinet that stored and recalled various memories. These philosophers were on the right track, but scientists now know that the brain encodes in a much more multi-faceted fashion.

Recalling positive memories can be euphoric, which is one of the reasons why so many people enjoy things that are nostalgic to them. When recalling a positive memory, the brain is calm. But for someone with depression, scans show that the brain is constantly busy.

The McGill researchers conducted research in which a smaller mouse was attacked by a stronger mouse. The Daily Mail stated researchers used this method because an animal who loses a fight has a similar reaction to a human tussling with internal conflict.

The mice who were beaten up were placed in an individual area where they could see, hear and smell the other mice who were not beat up. After a short period of time, the mice who were beaten up were then placed back in the population of the other unharmed mice.

Researchers noted that the mice who were subject to the abuse were socially distance compared to the others.

“Just like humans, depression is very individual,” Dr. Tak Pan Wong, who led the study said. “Not everyone who responds to stress develops depression.” From time to time, the mice who were attacked were reintroduced to the mouse who attacked them, which understandably retriggered negative memories.

When looking at their brains after the previously attacked mice are reintroduced to the aggressive mouse, the attacked mice show constant brain activity very similar to someone who is depressed. These memories seemed to trigger the mouse’s depression, changing their state of mind and mood, according to McGill University’s research.

Researchers found that the mice who were socially distance after being attacked did seem to hold on to the negative memories, feeding their depression.

The McGill team has stated that people who suffer from PTSD are being treated with ketamine and believe that ketamine could also work for those who are depressed by pushing out the negative memories that trigger their depression to start with.