This Week In Science!
“But those studies will probably take a few years, so for now I guess you’ll just have to stick to your current sadness-reducing fall-backs, yoga and bourbon.” Gawker newsy commentating person Lauri Apple cheekily retorts in response to news that a drug could spare us all from pesky negative memories once and for all. Ah, bliss!
Yes, it’s magic called metyrapone! University of Montreal researchers published an article in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism describing the results of their study of “re-recording” painful memories and emotions:
Thirty-three men participated in the study, which involved learning a story composed of neutral and negative events.
Three days later, they were divided into three groups – participants in the first group received a single dose of metyrapone and a second group received a double dose. The third group received a placebo.
Group participants were then asked to remember the story. Then, four days after the medication had cleared from the body, individual memory performance was reevaluated.
“We found that the men in the group who received two doses of metyrapone were impaired when retrieving the negative events of the story, while they showed no impairment recalling the neutral parts of the story,” Marin said.
Essentially what the drug does is lower levels of cortisol, a hormone involved with recalling memories. Cortisol also gets a bad rap as a “stress hormone” because it swings into action during the body’s “fight or flight” response to high-stress situations, helping you stop and fight like a ninja or get your everloving asana out of danger. So it’s great when you need quick burst of energy, heightened memory functions, a surge of increased immunity, lower sensitivity to pain, and maintaining of homeostasis in the body when you’re fighting for survival. Slow down buffalo soldiers, most of us aren’t in need of the split second karate chop or scram instinct every day, though it would sure be useful to keep it sharp, eh?
Unfortunately in our high-stress culture of go go go, levels of cortisol shoot through the roof and don’t get a chance to come back down to chill mode. This causes problems. A Yoga practice can help. But we digress. While we see the benefits of un-remembering negative details of the past, it peaks our cortisol levels to think the general public would assume take a drug to A. Huxley’s Soma-land if it went to market. Besides, we’re still pretty wary of any pill that let’s us recall only the good parts of our pincha mayurasana practice. Sure it can be a bitch, but we’ll stick to our peacock pitfalls, and our Lady Gaga method, thank you very much. Eternal sunshine, our asana.
Editor’s Note: Metyrapone is not currently commercially available. And yoga…well, look around. It’s everywhere.
(*no we don’t know why it was men only).