Do you think it’s a good idea to help people erase bad memories? According to a Dutch study, a widely available blood pressure pill may be able to do just that, allowing doctors to treat anxiety disorders and phobias.
Researchers say the generic beta blocker propranolol significantly weakened people’s fearful memories of spiders among a group of healthy volunteers.
The findings, in the journal Nature Neuroscience, are important because the drug may offer another way to help people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems related to bad memories.
Traditionally, therapists seek to teach people with these disorders strategies to build new associations and block bad memories. The problem is the memories remain and people often relapse.
The next steps are to look at how long the drug’s effects on memory last, and to test the treatment in people who are suffering from some kind of disorder or phobia.