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Could we treat mental health disorders by disrupting maladaptive memories?

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Many mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and drug addiction, persist due to the formation of maladaptive memories. In PTSD , the emotional memory of trauma leads to symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, and intense psychological distress; in addiction, cues associated with past drug use can precipitate relapse to drug-seeking even after years of abstinence. Might it be possible to target those maladaptive memories therapeutically, to produce long-term alleviation of symptoms? We’ll consider new treatment approaches under development, that aim to do this by exploiting the process of ‘memory reconsolidation’, and how these approaches – which have had success in animal models – could be translated to the clinic.

This talk is part of the SciSoc – Cambridge University Scientific Society series.

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