Now, psychologist Elizabeth Phelps and her colleagues at New York University have developed a way to interfere with fear memories in humans using a behavioural technique, and the results last for at least a year. The results are published in Nature.
The authors showed people coloured squares and gave them mild electric shocks to the wrist after a certain colour appeared. After training, the coloured squares that had been paired with the shock incited fear in the volunteers, which experimenters measured as changes in skin conductance — an indication of sweat-gland activity.
The next day the authors began the modified extinction training. First they called up the fear memory by showing the coloured square. Ten minutes later, while the memory was in its vulnerable state, they repeatedly showed the coloured square again without shocking the volunteers. A day later the fear response to the coloured square was gone, suggesting that the reconsolidation process had been blocked. The fear showed no sign of returning even a year later.
maybe we are not that far from Dollhouse…