Insights into the biochemistry and physiology of long-term memory have been used to erase memories!

For those who have lived through wars and disasters, or suffered through traumatic experiences, memories of those events are a burden that can cast a shadow over the rest of their lives. Recent results from the Glanzman lab indicate that it may be possible to alter or erase such memories, and thus potentially alleviate the suffering of veterans and others with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The Glanzman lab uses Aplysia as a model system, a marine slug with simple behaviors and large neurons ideal for synaptic studies of memory. They showed that long-term memory in Aplysia could be erased by inhibiting the function of protein kinase M (PKM), a kinase that is also required for long-term synaptic plasticity in the Aplysia nervous system. Together with results from the Sacktor lab in mammals, these findings indicate that PKM is a universal mechanism for the maintenance of synaptic plasticity and memory.