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Down Memory Limbo In a recent study by Joseph LeDoux it has been found that memories associated with fear can be altered or completely erased from the long-term memory The memory is comprised of three main parts The sensory register includes anything picked up by your senses From here anything that you pay attention to will be transferred into the short-term memory which can hold five to nine items at a time The long-term memory has an endless capacity Its a little bit harder for memories to end up here though since it requires the synthesis of new proteins along with structural changes to nerve cells Until Joseph LeDoux conducted his experiment it was believed that memories stored in the long-term memory were for the most part permanent and hard to disrupt LeDoux used Pavlovs conditioning techniques to train rats to become fearful when they hear a certain tone He did this by providing a mild electrical shock to the rats feet at the same time that the tone was played One training session was enough to teach the rats that the tone meant pain and they would freeze with fear upon hearing it Once the rats were conditioned LeDoux played the tone again but this time at the moment when the rats would remember the shock he injected the rats amygdalas with an antibiotic that stops the synthesis of new proteins A day later he tested the rats again by playing the tone only to find that the majority of them didnt react After numerous tests he realized two things One this fear amnesia occurs only when the injection and the reactivation of the memory happen at the same time and two it doesnt matter how old the memory is LeDoux has earned merit for the theory that memories go through a vulnerable stage and can be altered Although his research hasnt shed any light on memories other than fearful ones
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