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TEDxUCL - Ravi Das - Remembering to Forget: Rewriting Broken Memories to Treat Addiction

Ravi Das is a PhD student studying the psychopharmacology of memory and mental illness at UCL. His focus is upon developing effective long-term treatments for the maladaptive memory processes that underlie relapse in addicts. His research is translational in nature, attempting to take experimental findings of memory disruption from rats to humans and the clinic. His work assesses whether the disruption of a process known as memory reconsolidation can prove an effective anti-relapse strategy in drug addicts, improving the (currently poor) prognosis for addicted individuals. Talk: Remembering to Forget: Rewriting Broken Memories to Treat AddictionWe like to believe that our memories are film reels of our past, precisely cataloguing the experiences that define our current selves. In reality, memories can be de and re-constructed whenever we recall them in a process known as 'reconsolidation'. This makes us efficient learning machines, allowing us to effortlessly incorporate important new information into our knowledge stores. It also means that the past we remember is likely not the past that occurred. Changes in neural conditions at recall can impact what is re-stored, if anything. We can now manipulate these conditions with drugs or learning tasks to update, or possibly even erase memories. While this may seem like a threat to our senses of identity, it could hold the key for developing the first effective long-term treatments for addiction; a brain disease where normal learning processes are hijacked by addictive drugs.
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