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Erasing Neuronal Memories May Help Control Chronic Pain

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the men-in-black-with-medical-degrees dept.

Canada 80

An anonymous reader writes "A team of researchers led by McGill neuroscientist Terence Coderre, who is also affiliated with the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, has found the key to understanding how memories of pain are stored in the brain. More importantly, the researchers are also able to suggest how these memories can be erased, making it possible to ease chronic pain."

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Dianetics (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39039847)

It has long been known that the central nervous system “remembers” painful experiences, that they leave a memory trace of pain.

So was L. Ron Hubbard right about "engrams" causing PTSD?

Re:Dianetics (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39040259)

L. Ron Hubbard was right about starting a religion in order to get rich.

Re:Dianetics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39045639)

What I love the most about L Ron Hubbard is that he wrote lots of books about aliens, AND THEN created a religion.... what the?!

Re:Dianetics (1, Insightful)

Jay L (74152) | more than 2 years ago | (#39040729)

So was L. Ron Hubbard right about "engrams" causing PTSD?

Page 194.

Dianetics.

Re:Dianetics (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39041225)

Well, he was sort of right about memories causing things like PTSD, but he didn't invent that idea (or the word engram). The things he did add, like engrams being stored impressed on the protoplasm of cells or the implication that engrams are experiences you had while unconscious, are wrong.

Re:Dianetics (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39041247)

Yes. I'm an engineer by training and have read a lot of his books. They are unbelievably applicable and logical. I'd recommend putting aside any bias or preconceived notions and read it for yourselves, as the mainstream scientific community is starting to discover the same things he wrote about 60 years ago, and researched, refined and honed since then. It actually works.

Re:Dianetics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39042645)

Tom,is that you?

Re:Dianetics (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39041711)

There's a lot of almost right in Dianetics, that was part of Hubbard's strategy. Combine that with some over-simplifications, magic thinking and space aliens and there you have it.

Re:Dianetics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39042227)

There's a lot of almost right in Dianetics, that was part of Hubbard's strategy. Combine that with some over-simplifications, magic thinking and space aliens and there you have it.

Have you actually tried the therapy he discusses in it? Seems a bit half-hatched to judge based on what you read on the intertubes without firsthand experience.

Re:Dianetics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39042757)

With the same reasonning, I hightly urge you to throw yourself in a wheel.
After all, how can you say it's stupid without first-hand experience ?

Re:Dianetics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39046025)

With the same reasonning, I hightly urge you to throw yourself in a wheel.
After all, how can you say it's stupid without first-hand experience ?

Nice non-sequitur. The difference is that throwing oneself in a wheel isn't now being discovered by respected researchers as a viable form of therapy.

Hubbard's work is.

Really can't see the difference, eh?

Re:Dianetics (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39046831)

[Unlike Dianetics, the object of a joke] isn't now being discovered by respected researchers as a viable form of therapy.

"Now being discovered"? Wikipedia says Carl Jung knew about abreaction before Hubbard did.

Re:Dianetics (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39058901)

[Hubbard's work is] now being discovered by respected researchers as a viable form of therapy.

[citation needed]

Re:Dianetics (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39043341)

If I ever find myself troubled by ancient evil space aliens, I'll consider it.

For now though, my problems seem a bit more reality based and I can manage them OK on my own.

Re:Dianetics (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042245)

Combine that with some over-simplifications, magic thinking and space aliens

Ah, you've discovered Phase II.

Certainly "Profit" worked out nicely.

Re:Dianetics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39044335)

Good lies always have an element of truth to them.

Re:Dianetics (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#39043181)

So was L. Ron Hubbard right about "engrams" causing PTSD?

L Ron Hubbard was a pathological liar, fantasist, wife beater, sociopath and all round nutcase. The default assumption about anything he said in the absence of evidence was that it was a self-serving lie. Not sure how you'd even be able to massage PTSD to be the same condition as chronic pain to consider him to be "right". And even if he were "right" (and he isn't) then only in the same fashion as a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day.

Re:Dianetics (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39046485)

fuck dianetics and engrams. hindus have a word for this: samskara. and they've been around a lot longer than scientology.

Pain should not be "erased", it should be managed. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39049195)

Chronic pain is a problem but I don't think the way they are going about it is the solution to it.

Trying to mess with the chemistry of the brain can have consequences which may be worse than the chronic pain they are trying to treat. PTSD is a problem, pain is a problem, but trying to erase the memories of it is not the solution.

Eternal Sunshine (4, Funny)

casings (257363) | more than 2 years ago | (#39039857)

Finally I can get over my ex-girlfriend

Re:Eternal Sunshine (2)

tonywong (96839) | more than 2 years ago | (#39039883)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0338013/

Re:Eternal Sunshine (3, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39040811)

Since most Slashdotters probably don't have that problem I was thinking about having the memories of Windows ME and Vista removed from my brain.

Ohhhh, and ummmm, 2G1C.

Re:Eternal Sunshine (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39041097)

Stuff like this worries me. What if it accidentally messes up something like your ability to read or writ(fsdljfh! lJHSDjhfjh2@? Potato. DKf!

Men in Black (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39039987)

How long until they have a working prototype of Tommy Lee Jones pen?

Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (4, Funny)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39040047)

"You know that pain and guilt can't be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They're the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don't want my pain taken away! I need my pain!"

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39040067)

"You know that pain and guilt can't be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They're the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don't want my pain taken away! I need my pain!"

Expect when he runs away from his pain in the nexus? :D

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (4, Funny)

discord5 (798235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39040679)

Expect when he runs away from his pain in the nexus? :D

You... misunderstand... That was... only to hide... bad writing... and terrible acting... in the quest for ... milking a dry cow...

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (5, Informative)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39040727)

I can't tell you how much I hope they manage to find a non-opiate way to handle chronic pain. I'm not on them any more, but they are a bitch even when they make life bearable. But there is a difference between physical and emotional pain. I know it's a fact that one can lead to the other (I've experienced it) but normally they have different causes/initiators. And if you can nip one in the bud fast enough, it will stop the spill over effect to the other.

I had a really pinched nerve in my back before (L5/S1) caused by a ruptured disk. Really bad... could barely walk, and not more than a few paces without assistance (and sometimes lying down in just the right position was the only way I could be). Incredible pain, permanent nerve damage, partial paralysis of some muscles in the leg (most of which has come back), and incredible pain where even a mostly nonreligious person like myself would sometimes be reduced to praying for it to stop. Lasted about 9 or 10 months till surgery fixed it about 70%. Yay.

I would have loved something like this if it meant I wouldn't have had to deal with opiates like 80mg Oxycontin to make life livable. And most especially so that I wouldn't have had to endure the physical and emotional effects when weening myself off that shit after the surgery took away almost all the pain (my doc was totally surprised when I told him I was off the shit several months after the surgery... without his help). I think getting off opiates messes you up almost as long as the injury. People don't get it: once you've had that harsh shit in your system for more than a few months, and at high doses (2 or 3 80s a day... and no it didn't stop all the pain but managed it), just getting it out of your system is the start. It tickles that part of the brain so long and so hard that you literally have a hole in your psyche that doesn't fill in for months and months and months and .... You know something is missing. And then there is the recovering from the emotional turmoil that the pain caused. Put the two together and it took at least a year or so to find an even keel for me. And I know I can be an irritable and maybe :) and irritating fuck at the best of times... but I was a champion then.

I didn't like being on it because it makes you dull. But unlike what many think, it doesn't totally incapacitate you and you can function. Anyway... I hope like hell they find something to help people with chronic pain that works and is more benign than what is out there now. I don't like having to take acetaminophen or NSAIDs [wikipedia.org] every day. I could probably argue for low dose oxys from my doc, but I don't fucking want those... period. Here's to the folks at McGill!

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (1)

gjkopf (2529052) | more than 2 years ago | (#39041001)

This posting is so honest, it makes me wonder: How did you get a peek in my Diary? ;)

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39041391)

People who haven't had this kind of pain usually through no fault of their own don't really understand what severe chronic pain does to a person. Nor do I wish anyone other than a few dictators first hand knowledge. :) Similar to how mental health issues are finally being discussed openly (about time... I had a good buddy degenerate into severe schizophrenia a long time ago and commit suicide) it's time people understood how debilitating chronic pain is and the issues around it. Have to talk about it or no one will know. Most can't imagine more than a stubbed baby toe; which hurts like a son of a bitch : ) . Only works if I'm.honest about it. Good luck (no sarcasm either).

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39041811)

Man the fuck up.

Real men keep their pain locked up behind a bottle of whiskey and a cigar. I had 2/3rds of my vertebra explosively removed by an IED during the American occupation of Georgia! Fucking insurgents took my better half when I lost my spine. Cowards hid a Glock handgun in a puppy knowing I had a thing for dogs. Long story short, when the field medic tried to give me morphine I looked him in the eyes and told him all I wanted was my Johnny Walker and for him to sing me some good ol' country music.

Suffice it to say, even though the boys in my squad took to calling me limp noodle, I eventually overcame my loss of a skeleton through pure will-power and true american grit. When I invented a new form of locomotion that didn't require bones, I was hired by the University of Pennsylvania to assist their robotics program develop a cybernetic octopus powered by a raspberry pi and an Arduino.

While you were shivering from withdrawls like a proper crybaby, I was teaching little "Doc" to slither and worm all the way in to the black ops! Ahh yes, me and that cephalopod were inseperable. Largely as a result of my addiction to a generic "Pac Man" clone written for running on wireless routers! Because of this, "Doc" eventually nicknamed me "Inky". We killed 17 men and several pop culture icons that fateful year. I guess is what I'm trying to say is:

Next time you come moping on to slashdot wanting to cry about opiate addiction, just stop for a second and think of good old "Inky" and "Doc" and how they 14-handedly put a stop to Whitney's suffering. That should give you the inspiration you need to nut up and go kill some people.

Always Your's,
-Inky

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056223)

I would have modded this funny.

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39059025)

Who modded this Troll? I had many lolz XD

Can identify with some of that (1)

UpnAtom (551727) | more than 2 years ago | (#39041253)

Did my L4/5 disc in as well as my L5/S1. Had both operated on but in hindsight would have tried osteopathy first.

Don't know if this will help you but I later found out that some of the pain was caused by muscle tension, especially around the facet joints.

I'm taking serrapeptase in hope of reversing the 'permanent' nerve damage (I have sciatic numbness) as well as the scarring from the operation. Also massaging the area helps.

Alexander technique/posture correction is a must - pain teaches us very bad habits which tend to make the problem worse.

No idea why, but a gluten allergy made the problem a lot worse. Overall, I'm about four times better than after my last surgery.

For others reading, toothache can be similarly painful. I was also unable to stand up straight at the age of 16 due to the spasm.

Re:Can identify with some of that (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39041495)

Thanks. I understand the muscle tension thing 100%. And the posture. I'll look up serratiopeptidase and the Alexander exercise. I find core strengthening actually helps a lot including a kind of side sit up I do kind of like a side plank but sit upping, if you can follow. I'll do it either across a bench with my feet tucked under a rack at the same level to anchor, or less strenuous on getting sideways on a back extension device like at a gym (not talking inversion table). If those aren't available I'll side plank and dip the hips up and down. And of course back stretches so it doesn't all seize up. Swimming helps a LOT. So does the hot tub after. No joke. Lat pull Downs and light weight hey rep seated rows too. And if it gets too stressed which it does I take it easy and only do core and swimming. Waalking often helps but too can mean lying Downs lot the next day too. But I have to keep at it or I'll lose the ability. And when it goes to shit I use a TENS unit I bought (don't need rx in Canada for one), heat, and 3 ibuprofens. VERY rarely a perc (less than 5 or 10 a year). Pardon the lack of paragraphs ... I'm writing this on an android phone while driving a motorcycle in heavy traffic. Ok well maybe only the android part is true... maybe.

Re:Can identify with some of that (1)

UpnAtom (551727) | more than 2 years ago | (#39043231)

Core strengthening is probably important, but you need the right posture for most benefit.

Serrapeptase is entirely experimental - but it's the only thing I could find that might break down scar tissue. I haven't tracked exactly which parts of my leg are numb over time but it seems to have reduced.

AC makes some interesting points if you're willing to go under the knife again.

Re:Can identify with some of that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39042469)

As someone who works in a chronic pain department, i can point you to this as well.

Facet joints have an innervation by a nerve that can be cut percutaniously and with relative ease. You can even "test"this in advance by injecting local anesthetic first.

For those of you with persistant radicular pain, rhizotomy by Pulsed RF leasions can alse be quite benificiary, also percutaniously.

In my humble opinion, those have a higher chance for succes than serrapeptase or Normast and other "supplements" .

good luck.

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39041473)

Aping what was said above:

"So was L. Ron Hubbard right about "engrams" causing PTSD?

Page 194.

Dianetics."

I would recommend reading it and actually trying what is known as "Book 1" auditing, which was developed off of his findings. I went into it with no presupposed ideas, putting aside the rumor mill and the flame wars, with a very open mind. It worked. My neck pains are now virtually gone. I had been to traditional doctors, chiropractors, nutritionists, and others, and nothing but Hubbard's techniques worked. I'm glad to see discoveries he made so long ago now being reexamined as in TFA. I can't recommend the book enough. Buy it, read it, decide for yourself. All I know is, after you see it work, you want to kick yourself or any others who have been slaves to meds. It's all deceivingly simple and easy to do.

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (1)

bogie (31020) | more than 2 years ago | (#39041533)

Boy can I relate. I'll just say ditto for 15yrs and I hope to someday come out the other side like you did. I'm glad things have gotten better and your off the shitty meds.

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 2 years ago | (#39041601)

"I can't tell you how much I hope they manage to find a non-opiate way to handle chronic pain"

Try medical cannabis. Major post-operative neuropathic pain after getting a fair bit of my skeleton replaced. Worked just as well as Oxy 40mg.

There's research going on regarding sea slug toxins. I'm really interested in that, because if I could be pain-free without needing to resort to smoking/vaping/eating cannabis, I'm down for it.

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39049385)

"I can't tell you how much I hope they manage to find a non-opiate way to handle chronic pain"

Try medical cannabis. Major post-operative neuropathic pain after getting a fair bit of my skeleton replaced. Worked just as well as Oxy 40mg.

There's research going on regarding sea slug toxins. I'm really interested in that, because if I could be pain-free without needing to resort to smoking/vaping/eating cannabis, I'm down for it.

The problem with these pills is some of them can permanently alter brain chemistry. It's not a good idea to chemically alter the brain in this way unless you know for certain it wont be permanent. Cannabis isn't permanent, and all the new drugs being created should have their side effects known. Some people should never ever use oxys or any pain pills because they have the genes of an addict, for these people there should be different classes of drugs that are non-addictive. The problem is when these new pills get made the side effects aren't fully considered and some of them turn out to be addictive as hell and life altering.

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 2 years ago | (#39051411)

If the permanent altering is the blocking of a targeted section of nerves, I'm all for it. I'll even lab rat for it, you just don't know the pain I'm in. Fuck animal and simulated testing, I'll be the first to say "Stick me with the needle, let's see what this does."

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056261)

Actually cannabis isn't as benign as people think it is. I used to smoke it a long time ago... and not a weekend warrior either. For more than ten years. I had to stop because it started giving me panic attacks. It wasn't fun or relaxing any more. I have talked to many others with the same experience, so I know it isn't just me. And there is compelling research that teens who smoke dope have a statistically higher incidence of schizophrenia later in life. And yeah regardless of all that, I have thought about the stuff, but from my experience I find dope fogs me up more than opiates. But at least you don't have such a harsh withdrawal if you decide to stop. And from people I have seen stop smoking it, I do believe there are some withdrawal effects. But I might try it as a test, but I'm not sure I want to be high all the time. I think ibuprofen might be easier on the brain for me.

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39045375)

And most especially so that I wouldn't have had to endure the physical and emotional effects when weening myself off that shit after the surgery took away almost all the pain (my doc was totally surprised when I told him I was off the shit several months after the surgery... without his help). I think getting off opiates messes you up almost as long as the injury.

I know someone who suffers from chronic back pain due to a curvature of her spine and related complications.

Her old pain specialist had her on morphine and possibly more. Eventually she realized she was addicted to them, and was quite distraught. She had to take it more often, not because the pain was back, but because her body was craving the meds.

Once her old doctor retired, the new one helped get her weened off the opiates, got rid of several of her prescriptions, and actually found a way to manage her chronic pain far better. (Though, I'm pretty sure she's still on some kind of pain killer.)

It was really unpleasant for her to go through an addiction which was more or less caused by her doctor simply giving her heavy duty painkillers. Her new doctor tried very hard to make her understand that she'd done nothing wrong, and that pretty much anybody using those things long enough is going to become dependent on them. But it literally took her months to wean off it with a doctor supervising it.

I know from my limited experience after having my wisdom teeth extracted (more like surgery) that the codeine they gave me made me dull and wooly ... I could barely function and chose to not use the prescription any more than absolutely necessary. I simply can't imagine having to use opiates regularly.

These things have their places, but it's easy to see how they become abused by people. Take your normal dose, become addicted. No thanks.

Admittedly, when my uncle was dying of cancer and was on palliative care, the doctor pretty much told him he'd get him anything which would help with the pain if the ones he were on were making him too drowzy or not working -- but at that point, becoming addicted was the last thing anybody cared about. He wasn't going to live long enough for that to be something to be worried about.

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (1)

HybridST (894157) | more than 2 years ago | (#39049049)

I've used codeine for severe tooth pain when i had a split wisdom tooth but i found it to not so much kill the pain as only fog my mind so i didn't care so much about it. I've also tried vicodin which at a low dose removed the pain entirely for about 4 hours at a time. Truthfully though the very best remedy i ever found for such pain is a double-dose of ibuprofin and a normal dose every 3 or so hours after. For me it took down the swelling in the tissues and removed pressure from the underlying nerves.

Of course YMMV.

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39049267)

I can't tell you how much I hope they manage to find a non-opiate way to handle chronic pain. I'm not on them any more, but they are a bitch even when they make life bearable. But there is a difference between physical and emotional pain. I know it's a fact that one can lead to the other (I've experienced it) but normally they have different causes/initiators. And if you can nip one in the bud fast enough, it will stop the spill over effect to the other.

I had a really pinched nerve in my back before (L5/S1) caused by a ruptured disk. Really bad... could barely walk, and not more than a few paces without assistance (and sometimes lying down in just the right position was the only way I could be). Incredible pain, permanent nerve damage, partial paralysis of some muscles in the leg (most of which has come back), and incredible pain where even a mostly nonreligious person like myself would sometimes be reduced to praying for it to stop. Lasted about 9 or 10 months till surgery fixed it about 70%. Yay.

I would have loved something like this if it meant I wouldn't have had to deal with opiates like 80mg Oxycontin to make life livable. And most especially so that I wouldn't have had to endure the physical and emotional effects when weening myself off that shit after the surgery took away almost all the pain (my doc was totally surprised when I told him I was off the shit several months after the surgery... without his help). I think getting off opiates messes you up almost as long as the injury. People don't get it: once you've had that harsh shit in your system for more than a few months, and at high doses (2 or 3 80s a day... and no it didn't stop all the pain but managed it), just getting it out of your system is the start. It tickles that part of the brain so long and so hard that you literally have a hole in your psyche that doesn't fill in for months and months and months and .... You know something is missing. And then there is the recovering from the emotional turmoil that the pain caused. Put the two together and it took at least a year or so to find an even keel for me. And I know I can be an irritable and maybe :) and irritating fuck at the best of times... but I was a champion then.

I didn't like being on it because it makes you dull. But unlike what many think, it doesn't totally incapacitate you and you can function. Anyway... I hope like hell they find something to help people with chronic pain that works and is more benign than what is out there now. I don't like having to take acetaminophen or NSAIDs [wikipedia.org] every day. I could probably argue for low dose oxys from my doc, but I don't fucking want those... period. Here's to the folks at McGill!

How do we know this stuff is any better or safer than the opiates? Opiates suck but at least we know they work, we don't know if this works and we don't know what side effects it could have.

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39049469)

That's why they're researching it. They didn't say it is out for general consumption. I'm just hoping it is better than opiates because the likelihood of a relapse is fairly high, and I would rather not have to go through the whole fogged out get clean cycle again.

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (1)

Ster (556540) | more than 2 years ago | (#39041575)

He never said that. The movie you think you're quoting doesn't exist. I bet you think they made sequels to The Matrix too.

</denial>

-Ster

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39049223)

"You know that pain and guilt can't be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They're the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don't want my pain taken away! I need my pain!"

It depends on the amount of pain. Pain should definitely be managed, lessened, dulled, but to remove it completely can remove whatever lessons that pain was supposed to teach. Too much pain is bad, but no pain at all causes problems in itself and can be bad.

Re:Captain Kirk to the Rescue (again) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39055807)

That is the problem with our society. They don't know how to let go of the pain-body. Pain isn't what makes you that is a misconception. For more insight you should read Eckhart Tolle's "new beginnings".

Lethe (1)

Fished (574624) | more than 2 years ago | (#39040151)

Robert Heinlein called this Lethe in Time enough for love.". Once again, he's anticipated reality

Re:Lethe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39040781)

The Lethe field (also appearing in "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls") makes a kind-of sense. Since the brain depends on electrical activity to function, maybe it's possible to use an EM field at the right frequency to effect short term memory retention. Constantly resetting short term memory with the "Lethe" field made the patient to forget the pain, as well as everything else, until the field was switched off. Maybe a similar effect could be applied in a localized area of the brain for chronic pain.

Pain (3, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#39040161)

Pain is probably one of the most mysterious things the body experiences. Recent studies have shown that the distinctions between physical and emotional pain are often blurred because emotional pain can become physical pain. Emotional pain can create real, actual physical ailments and this is why there is great emphasis in studying depression in humans. Current thinking that depression causes undue cardiovascular stress and can possibly accelerate alzheimers and have other deleterious effects on the brain. Depression can cause pain. This study is exciting because it just might cure depression versus just using medicines to mitigate it.

Re:Pain (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39040285)

"Why are you so sad?"
I do not know!
"There is nothing to be sad about then."
I fear much.

Something is missing.

A recent conversation I had with my machine intelligence, Netty, after I shortened the memcache to improve performance. You know, the more I study "AI", the more insight I gain into our own minds...

This would make a good torture tool as well. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39049129)

If memories can be erased what better threat than to threaten to wipe someones memories?

I think the idea is shortsighted and will have unintended consequences.

Primal Therapy Rendered Obsolete!? (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 2 years ago | (#39040605)

OK, so what would Arthur Janov do?

Re:Primal Therapy Rendered Obsolete!? (1, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39041061)

OK, so what would Arthur Janov do?

Dunno. But I know what Jesus Would Do.

He'd smack you hard on the head so you fell down, and yell into your face

"This is a WAKEUP call from GOD. Get UP and LEAVE your pain BEHIND! Do it NOW! HALLELUJAH! It's a MIRACLE!"

the leap? (2)

schlachter (862210) | more than 2 years ago | (#39040615)

Seems like the article makes a logical leap that erasing memories will somehow help ease chronic pain. How so? Does the memory of the pain cause new pain of a similar sort to become more intense? Don't make me RTF just because the summary is making unsupported statements.

Re:the leap? (1)

AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39040635)

It seems like the enduring memory would certainly magnify the pain, in the same way that we flinch in anticipation of pain even though it ultimately makes it hurt worse to tense up so much.

Re:the leap? (4, Informative)

repapetilto (1219852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39040825)

No, this didn't have to do with conscious memories. This study was about the neurons in your spinal cord "remembering" pain from a tissue that is no longer sending painful signals. They placed a little blood pressure cuff thing around a rats ankle to limit blood flow for 3 hours, then removed it... this process damaged the tissue. A couple weeks later the tissue was healed, but the circuits in the spinal cord were altered to make the rat still feel pain in that paw. They then injected a compound into the spinal cords of some rats that apparently relieved the chronic pain. I don't see any control

Re:the leap? (1)

repapetilto (1219852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39040847)

Sorry... I was saying I don't see any control showing how much "pain" normal animals have though. So it is hard to say how strong the effects are.

Re:the leap? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39041109)

So basically, if the nerves are wires then chronic pain may very well be a short?

Re:the leap? (1)

repapetilto (1219852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042051)

I guess imagine a circuit carrying a pain signal going from your foot to brain with a high pass filter in your spine. There is a constant low frequency signal (low firing rate) coming from the pain receptors your foot, but when it is hurt the frequency increases (high firing rate). The high pass filter has a potentiometer that will adjust positively in response to a sustained high frequency signal (ie more signal passing leads to increased resistance leads to lower cutoff frequency).

Your body wants you to become more sensitive to pain so that you favor the foot and don't hurt it any further. Once your foot is healed, there should be a sustained period of low frequency pain signals from the foot, the potentiometer should adjust back so that the low frequency signals are filtered out (and do not reach your brain), thus lowering your sensitivity to the pain signals.

One explanation for chronic pain then, would be that the potentiometer gets stuck in the high resistance state and does not return to normal, leading to increased sensitivity to the low frequency pain signals.

Re:the leap? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39047795)

It doesn't entirely make sense to me, but then again I know more about EE than I do neuroscience. It did give me some nice insight. Thanks.

Re:the leap? (1)

repapetilto (1219852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39048691)

Well it's vice versa for me... so my analogy might kind of suck.

Re:the leap? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39049477)

In that case Slashdot should have chosen a better title. Either way the concept of trying to erase pain at the source doesn't necessarily solve the problem. The pain exists as part of an alert system, if the limb is removed then it might make sense to change the alert system but why not use hypnotherapy for something like that?

I think the medical community over relies on pills. Pills aren't the only type of treatment that exists and unless pills are the most effective treatment then why push them?

Re:the leap? (1)

repapetilto (1219852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056587)

Well they are saying that this chronic pain (ie no longer serving as part of the alert system) is due to aberrant growth (sort of like the short circuit mentioned above). The way they treated it was a very local injection of some peptides that inhibit the stabilization of the new growth. You wouldn't want to give this as a pill unless you could attach the peptide to something that binds a biomarker specific to new growth, in a certain type of neuron in the spinal cord, and then you would have to get that around the blood brain barrier... so yea, this is theoretically possible but not really feasible right now. Plus remember this is just one study on a couple of rats. Best way to localize the treatment is just inject it near where you want the effect, even then you are risking destabilizing good growth going on elsewhere in the brain and spinal cord.

Hypnotherapy would be trying to alter the circuits upstream the pain signal in your brain to make them less sensitive to it so it would be a different type of strategy. I am not sure how effective it is.

Re:the leap? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39043485)

What do you think a summary is? It is expected to hit the highlights and leave the supporting information to the article it summarizes.

Re:the leap? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39046005)

The phenomenon is well documented elsewhere. TFA didn't make any leaps, it just left that further research up to the reader. It's sometimes called 'windup'.

Others have noticed that treatment with ketamine can reverse windup, but few enjoy a ketamine trip. Treatment with a strong topical capsaicin while under a local seems to help as well, but it's no cure.

Is This Really a Good Thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39040857)

Once they can start to erase specific memories of pain, what is to stop them from erasing any memory at will? This could easily lead to censorship not just of media, but of minds.

Re:Is This Really a Good Thing? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 2 years ago | (#39041947)

I can bear physical pain - it's pure but the mental pain brings me to the dark side.

Memory of pain (and everything else) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39040989)

The linked article doesn't provide a lot of details but PKMz seems to be involved in the maintenance of all NDMAR dependent LTP. They are probably using the ZIP peptide to disrupt constitutively active PKMz associated with the memory of pain (last author Todd Saktor is the PKMz / ZIP guy). The problem with this approach is that it disrupts memory associated with EVERYTHING, there is no way to target only painful memories. Another potential problem is controversy on what ZIP actually disrupts. Unless there is more to the actual article than the press release indicates, this doesn't really seem like a huge leap.

Nasty reverse applications: implanting pain? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042085)

I wonder if the interrogation folks will turn this idea on its head, and develop ways to implant pain into subjects' brains. As is, "we are not going to physically harm you, but you will think and feel as if we had!" And it leaves behind no physical evidence of abuse.

This would be very ugly.

Re:Nasty reverse applications: implanting pain? (1)

johnvile (2560845) | more than 2 years ago | (#39042189)

what at rubbish idea.

Re:Nasty reverse applications: implanting pain? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39049537)

I wonder if the interrogation folks will turn this idea on its head, and develop ways to implant pain into subjects' brains. As is, "we are not going to physically harm you, but you will think and feel as if we had!" And it leaves behind no physical evidence of abuse.

This would be very ugly.

Thats a concern. This is why all this neuroscience stuff should be studied carefully. Knowing how the brain works is nice but it also is dangerous if the people who know dont respect your brain.

I guess it's true what they say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39043713)

No brains, no headache!

Ow... again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39046091)

So it would just be a new pain every day then?

erasing memory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39047387)

so comrade harper hows your day ( as he giggles after your put through the harperite conversion beam)

In other words it's about mind control. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39049079)

And I'm sure the military and governments have interesting plans for this.

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