Overcome fears by manipulating memory as you sleep
Whether it is snakes, flying or injections that give you the willies, it may one day be possible to simply snooze these fears away. A new study shows that fear memories can be manipulated while people sleep to be interpreted as less scary. The study is a step towards a less stressful alternative to exposure therapy, in which an individual must repeatedly confront their fear.
We know that sleep is important for processing memory. Every night, the events of the day are replayed in the sleeping brain to consolidate them as memories. Now Katherina Hauner at Northwestern University in Chicago and colleagues have shown that it is possible to target specific memories during this process and effectively overwrite them.