Japanese scientists discover clue to erasing traumatic memories

Japanese scientists discover clue to erasing traumatic memories (bigthink.com)

"* Scientists in Japan find that light can affect long-term traumatic memories in flies.

  • Keeping male flies in the dark helped them overcome negative mating memories.
  • The researchers hope to use the finding to develop new treatments for PTSD and similar disorders.

Can light be a factor in eliminating traumatic memories? Japanese scientists found that the long-term memory of flies can be affected if they are kept in the dark. This is the first discovery of the role of environmental light on such memories. The scientists hope to extend this approach to human victims of life-affecting traumas.

Events that are shocking can become a part of our long-term memory (LTM) , with new proteins synthesized and the neuronal circuits in our brain becoming altered, explains the press release from researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan University, who made the breakthrough. These memories can be hard to erase and may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Through their research, the team led by Professor Takaomi Sakai from Tokyo Metropolitan University discovered a particular molecular mechanism in Drosophilia flies that affects LTM. To find this, they set up a trauma for male flies by placing them with females who already mated. According to the courtship conditioning paradigm , in such situations mated females stress the unmated males to such an extent that they remember the experience, unwilling to ever mate with any more females – even if they were to be exposed to those that are unmated.

To see if they could reverse this traumatized behavior, the scientists placed male flies in the dark for days. They discovered that male flies who were in the dark for two or more days, were again willing to mate with females. In contrast, the flies who were kept on a normal day-night light cycle were still not interested in any mating. The researchers concluded that light had an affect on LTM."

Interesting, but aren’t people afraid of the dark? :smile:

Perhaps there are traumatic memories worth keeping after all.


Interestingly, if I had not dissociated my trauma then I would have been able to remember it and do something about it sooner.

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I’ve seen ‘the eternal sunshine of a spotless mind’, and deleting memories doesn’t end well.
Would you do it?


Most of my trauma is dissociated as I split my personality when it happened. The lead up to it I remember but no more than that mostly.

I have fibromyalgia which could be said to be caused by unprocessed trauma in the mind and it comes out as physical pain as my body attacks itself. I need to remember not block it out, but I can’t access these memories from free will. It is called an occluded memory and it is my subconscious protecting me from the trauma, even though my nervous system demands it.

I need to remember not forget.

Yes I think you are right about remembering being the best way. Have you tried hypnosis therapy?

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Not in respect to trauma yet. EMDR is also said to help retrieve memories.

It is bad to forget traumatic things that happen to you. How can you overcome a trauma, which you can’t recall?


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