Could an ingredient in curry erase scary memories?
Scientists at the City U. of New York gave rats electric jolts, and played a sound at the same time, so they’d link the two; after a while, they played the sound without the shocks, and the rats still froze, frightened, in their little rat tracks.
The team then switched up the rats’ food, feeding one group curcumin, a compound in the Indian spice turmeric, an ingredient in curry. When the sound was later played again, the rats eating regular food still froze with fear, but those eating curcumin didn’t—a sign that their memory of the earlier experiment had vanished.
Speculation is that curcumin may stop the brain from storing fear-related memories and could be used to treat conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder.
While the rats consumed mega doses of curcumin, humans would likely need less. “Many curcumin formulations on the market today, like 95% C3 Complex with Bioperine, longvida, or theracurmin, have been modified to increase absorption” and could work at much lower doses, says study head Glenn E. Schafe, Ph.D.
We’re bringing some on our next OKCupid date.