It sounds like something from a science fiction movie.
But researchers reckon they have found a way to erase painful memories and post-traumatic stress.
They discovered a link between a protein called PKM and recollections of disturbing incidents.
By targeting the specific brain circuit which holds the tormenting memory they believe they could weaken it or wipe it out.
The incredible study paves the way for treatment for war veterans and victims of horrific attacks. It may also help drug addicts and people with long-term memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
Professor David Glanzman, the study’s senior author, said: “I think it will be feasible.
“We will be able to go into one’s brain, identify the location of the memory of a traumatic experience and try to dampen it down.
“Once we know the neural circuit that contains the memory, then we need a selective way to inhibit the activity of PKM in that circuit.” His team in Los Angeles tested marine snails, whose cells react in a similar way to humans.
They found inhibiting their PKM removed bodily reactions that equated to long-term memories.
It could lead to a method of controlling connections in the brain called synapses to soften traumatic memories. Prof Glanzman added: “We can do this in culture, and there is no essential difference between the synapse in culture and the synapse in your brain.”