According to a new study by researchers from the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics, recalling positive experiences could help reverse depression brought on by stress.
Genentic engineering was used to create mice whose memory cells could be tagged while memories were forming. These memories could then be reactivated forcing the mice to recall a past experience.
The research paper notes,
“Male mice were given a positive experience — exposure to a female mouse — and formed a memory of the event. They were then exposed to a stressful experience that led to a depression-like state. While they were depressed, light was used to … reactivate the memory cells for the positive experience. Surprisingly, this resulted in a robust recovery from the depressed state.”
Interestingly, the memory-triggering light was the only way the mice had had a positive result. When they were regularly given actual female company again, there was no sign of improvement.
The study is yet to progress to human participants, but researchers are hoping for a similar result to help people in the battle against depression.