Heart med might help block painful memories

February 16, 2009 2:35:27 PM PST
Erasing painful memories could be as simple as taking a common heart medication. Dutch investigators say beta-blocker drugs appear to alter how memories are recalled.

The discovery reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience could help treat some anxiety disorders and phobias.

In the study, a fearful memory was created by associating pictures of spiders with an electric shock to the wrist. Volunteers were then split a day later and some received a beta-blocker.

Researchers say those on the medication had less fear when they were once again shown the spider pictures.

It's thought beta-blockers can interfere with how the brain makes sense of frightening events.