Tag Archives: Erasing bad memories

2014: Erasing Unwanted Memories!

To begin the New Year it seems fitting to discuss a new method that can help erase all of those unhappy 2013 memories. Scientists are researching a method  that will erase memories associated with mental trauma, psychiatric disorders and drug addiction.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.

Erasing Unwanted Memories

Excerpt: Unwanted Memories Erased…By Gautam Naik, The Wall Street Journal

“Scientists have zapped an electrical current to people’s brains to erase distressing memories, part of an ambitious quest to better treat ailments such as mental trauma, psychiatric disorders and drug addiction.

In an experiment, patients were first shown a troubling story, in words and pictures. A week later they were reminded about it and given electroconvulsive therapy, formerly known as electroshock. That completely wiped out their recall of the distressing narrative.

Forgetting painful memories.

Forgetting painful memories.

It’s a pretty strong effect. We observed it in every subject,” said Marijn Kroes, neuroscientist at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands and lead author of the study, published Sunday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Film: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. poster

Film: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. poster

Science has tinkered with similar notions for years. In exposure treatment, repetitive exposure to a phobia in a nonthreatening way is designed to help patients confront their fears and gradually weaken the fear response, a process known as extinction.

The hope is that one day it may be possible to selectively eliminate a person’s unwanted memories or associations linked to smoking, drug-taking or emotional trauma.

Scientists used to think that once a memory took hold in the brain, it was permanently stored and couldn’t be altered. People with anxiety disorders were taught to overcome their fears by creating a new memory. Yet the old memory remained and could be reactivated at any time.

About a decade ago, scientists made a surprising discovery. They showed that when a lab rodent was given a reminder of some past fear, the memory of that event appeared to briefly become unstable. If nothing was done, that memory stabilized for a second time, and thus got ingrained—a process known as reconsolidation.Photo- The Examiner

But when certain drugs, known to interfere with the reconsolidation process, were injected directly into the rodent’s brain, they wiped out the animal’s fearful memory altogether.

Whether it was possible to disrupt the memory-consolidation process in humans was thought to be difficult to answer because injecting drugs into the human brain is risky business. Dr. Kroes and his colleagues found a way around the problem.

In ECT treatment, patients get a muscle relaxant and an anesthetic and an electrical current is passed to part of their brains, triggering a brief seizure that can help treat the depression…

A lot more work needs to be done. It isn’t clear whether the memory erasure is temporary or permanent. And while the technique might work for simple stories, it needs to be shown that it also works for real-world traumatic memories.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions

Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Ask students to read the titles of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Based on these sources,  ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article.

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic

 

II. While Reading Activities

Vocabulary

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart by Freeology for assistance. vocab Freeology

  1. Scientists have zapped an electrical current to people’s brains.
  2. This is part of an ambitious quest to better treat mental ailments.
  3. The plot of the movie shows an estranged couple erasing memories of each other.
  4. Science has tinkered with similar notions for years.
  5. Repetitive exposure to a phobia is designed to help patients confront their fears.
  6. Scientists used to think that once a memory took hold in the brain, it couldn’t be altered.
  7. Whether it was possible to disrupt the memory-consolidation process in humans was thought to be difficult to answer.
  8. In ECT treatment, patients get a muscle relaxant.
  9. An electrical current is passed to part of their brains, triggering a brief seizure.
  10. A week later, the 39 patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups.

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T.  If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. This process can work on children who have had bad experiences.
  2. In an experiment, patients were first asked to describe a troubling experience.
  3. The experiment recalls the plot of the movie Eternal Sadness of the Spotless Mind.
  4. The hope is that one day it may be possible to eliminate a person’s unwanted memories linked to smoking, drug-taking or emotional trauma.
  5. All countries are doing research on this project.
  6. Before this, scientists used to think that once a memory took hold in the brain, it was forgotten.
  7. One experiment involved 39 patients who were undergoing electroconvulsive therapy for severe depression.
  8. In ECT treatment, patients get a muscle relaxant and an electrical current is passed to part of their brains, triggering a brief seizure.
  9.  It’s clear that  the memory erasure is permanent.
  10. People will have to pay fee for this treatment.

 Grammar Focus

Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Scientists have zapped an electrical current to people’s brains.
  2. In a experiment, patients were first shown a troubling story.
  3. It’s a pretty strong effect.

II

  1. The experiment recalls the plot of the movie.
  2. Science has tinkered with similar notions for years.
  3. About an decade ago, scientists made a surprising discovery.

III

  1. Their test subjects was 39 patients undergoing therapy.
  2. The 39 patients were asked to watch two distressing stories.
  3. A week later, the 39 patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups

III. Post Reading Tasks

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

  1. The article states, “Scientists have zapped an electrical current to people’s brains to erase distressing memories, part of an ambitious quest to better treat ailments such as mental trauma, psychiatric disorders and drug addiction.” What would be an example of “zapping” away distressing memories?
  2. Can you think of other situations where erasing bad memories might come in handy?
  3. In your opinion, are there situations where erasing a bad memory might not be a good thing to do? Provide examples.
  4. If you had the opportunity, would you like to have any bad memories erased? Provide reasons for your answers.

 Main Idea / Debate

Directions: Divide students into  two teams for this debate. Both teams will use the article  as their source of information.

Team A will list five reasons for Erasing  bad memories. Team B will list  five reasons against Erasing bad memories. Each team will have time to state their points of view,  and the teacher decides which team made their points. For organization, have students use this great Pros and Cons Scale organizer  from Freeology

Pros and Cons Scale

 

IV. Listening Activity   

Video Clip Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Pre-Listening

In the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind  the connections between people and memories become the focal point of a very unique romance.

Plot: Joel (Jim Carrey)  is stunned to discover that his girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet)  has had her memories of their tumultuous relationship erased. Out of desperation, he contracts the inventor of the process, Dr. Howard Mierzwaik, to have Clementine removed from his own memory. But as Joel’s memories progressively disappear, he begins to rediscover their earlier passion. From deep within the recesses of his brain, Joel attempts to escape the procedure.[Much of the film takes place in Joel’s mind.] As Dr. Mierzwiak and his crew chase him through the maze of his memories, it’s clear that Joel just can’t get her out of his head. Written by Focus FeaturesIMDb

While Listening Activities

Sentence Fill-ins -Multiple Choice

Directions: Students listen for the correct word or phrase to complete the sentences taken from the video. They are to choose from the options presented.

Note: In this clip Joel and Clementine are meeting for the first time on a train to Montauk, New York.

1. At the beginning of the train scene who says “Care if I sit closer?”

a. Joel

b. Clementine

c. conductor

2. Clementine asks Joel

a. How far you going?

b. Do you like my hair?

c. Do you work in a book store?

3. Clementine asks Joel

 a. Do you ever  hop at Barnes and Nobles?

b. Do you ever shop  at Barnes and Nobles?

c. Do you ever shop  Nobles  and Barnes?

4. Joel  tells Clementine that

a. he never recognized her

b. he will remember her

c. he would have remembered her

5. Clementine tells Joel that he might not recognize her because

a.  she travels a lot.

b. she reads a lot.

c. her hair color changes a lot.

6. Clementine begins to name various

a. hair colors

b. books

c. places she’s visited.

7. Clementine asks Joel not to make jokes about

 a. her hair color

b. her name

c. her nose spray

8. Who begins to sing?

a. Joel

b. the conductor

c. Clementine

9. Joel tells Clementine that her name means

a. merciful

b. mercy

c. merciless

10. Who uses nose spray?

a. Joel

b. the onductor

c. Clementine

Post-Listening Activities

Questions for Discussion

Directions:Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.

1. From this clip, would you say that Joel and Clementine were attracted to each other? Why or why not.

2. Who was more aggressive in the meeting, Joel or Clementine? How do you know this?

3.  In your opinion do they make a good couple? Provide reasons for why or why not.

4. Having read the plot for this film, what does the title mean?

4. With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask Clementine or Joel.

 ANSWER KEY: Erasing Memories