General, Research, Technology

Scientists "rewrote memories" in order to cure alcoholism

In the field of ridding people of alcoholThere are many methods of dependence: from effective medications to psychological correction. However, apparently, the researchers from University College London went the farthest. Their research showed that a specially calculated dose of a substance called ketamine can affect the mind, actually “overwriting” a number of memories related to alcohol behavior. And this will thereby help reduce alcohol consumption.

A long-known drug may have unexpected properties.

How to get rid of alcoholism?

First, let's deal with the medicine itself. Namely, with ketamine. Ketamine was originally developed as an anesthetic in the mid-20th century, but its powerful effect on the nervous system made it unsuitable for widespread use in medical practice. Recently, however, the drug is experiencing a "rebirth" after it has been discovered antidepressant properties.

Following some iconic RussianA study in the 1980s exploring the potential of ketamine to treat a variety of behavioral disorders, including alcoholism, a new study suggests that the drug could potentially disrupt the coding of reward memories after drinking alcohol. The fact is that a clear system of associations is built in the brain, which, roughly speaking, “rewards” us with endorphins and other substances after drinking alcohol.

At the heart of why people become addictedfrom drugs or alcohol, lies the system of "training". “Explains Ravi Das, lead author of the new study. In essence, alcohol captures the built-in brain reward learning system so that you end up with an irresistible urge to accept it. Unfortunately, once these bonding relationships are established, it is very difficult to destroy them. Or simply put, “forget it.” But it is vital to prevent relapse.

Based on theoretical efficiencyKetamine in the treatment of alcoholism, a new study suggested that the drug has the ability to “rewrite” reward memories if it is introduced at the moment the brain recovers these memories. To experimentally test this hypothesis, the researchers recruited 90 people who abuse alcohol but do not have a diagnosis of alcoholism.

To activate memory, the researchers gavesubjects to drink a glass of beer. But before they were allowed to drink beer, people were shown drinking-related images and asked to evaluate the expected enjoyment of the drink. However, before the subjects had time to drink, beer was taken from them. As conceived by scientists, this was to activate the memories of the reward and break the association between the award and the drink.

See also: The human liver can produce alcohol. How is this possible?

All 90 people were randomdivided into three groups: one group received a dose of ketamine immediately after activation of the memories, the other group received a placebo, and the third group also received ketamine, but without prior activation of memory.

The results showed that the group receivingketamine after memory activation reported a significant decrease in the amount of alcohol consumed in the following week. Moreover, the results of a decrease in alcohol consumption were observed during 9 months of observation. Interestingly, the group that received ketamine without memory activation also reported a decrease in the amount of alcohol consumed, but their rates were not as impressive as those in the first group. And how do you like the new method? Share your opinion in our telegram chat.

This is the first demonstration of a very simple, butan accessible approach, so we hope that by studying the properties of ketamine, we will be able to significantly advance in the fight against alcoholism. In fact, we managed to “rewrite” the memory of the participants in the experiment. Namely, that moment that is associated with pleasant memories, making them "not so pleasant." This allows you to reduce cravings for alcohol.

Researchers warn that this workIt is just proof of concept, not rigorous clinical trials. Full trials are yet to be done in the future. But preliminary data may suggest that it is possible that scientists will be able to develop a new technology.