WebMD, usually a reassuring site filled with comforting medical knowledge, shares the recent finding that a common blood pressure drug is not actually erasing our memories, but just kind of getting inside our heads anyway:
In their study, 60 undergraduate students aged 18 to 28 viewed fear-related images on a computer and learned to link pictures of spiders with a mild shock to the hand, which created a fearful memory.
After a 24-hour break, the researchers randomly gave each participant either 40 milligrams of propranolol or a placebo (dummy pill). An hour and a half later, they asked the students to view the spider pictures again and to remember what they had learned the day before.
The students who received the beta-blocker propranolol showed no return of fear when viewing the spider pictures, a finding that suggests the entire fear memory was removed.
I’m taking a related drug. Lots of people do. Beta-blockers work by blocking the effects of adrenaline, so it makes sense that they’d have some kind of influence on fear and anxiety. But still… affecting the way our brains create memories?