Blood Pressure Drug Can Eliminate Bad Memories

Feb 17, 2009
A commonly prescribed medicine for blood pressure shows promise in treatment of phobias and post traumatic stress, a new study says.

Merel Kindt, a leading author of the study the University of Amsterdam found that drug used for treatment of hypertension called propranolol was effective in eliminating phobia of spiders among a people, who were given this drug.

The Dutch study involved 60 healthy participants, who took part in an experiment, where they learned to associate a picture of a spider with an electric shock. As a result, they developed a phobia of spiders even without shock. Then all volunteers were divided into two groups. The first group took propranolol and the other group took a placebo pill before seeing the picture. The experiment showed that those volunteers, who took propranolol, were no longer afraid of spider picture.

How does the drug for blood pressure work to eliminate stressful memories? It is known body reacts to distressing events by producing adrenaline that influences the amygdale, that plays an important role in the memory of emotional reactions. The memory is reinforced by further production of adrenaline. Propranolol acts by blocking adrenaline receptors in the brain, which explains its positive effect on bad memories.

Further research is needed to find whether this drug can be used to treat such serious conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder and erase bad memories.
The study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.