Inducible and Selective Erasure of Memories in the Mouse Brain via Chemical-Genetic Manipulation

Xiaohua Cao, Huimin Wang, Bing Mei, Shuming An, Liang Yin, L. Phillip Wang, Joe Z. Tsien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Rapid and selective erasures of certain types of memories in the brain would be desirable under certain clinical circumstances. By employing an inducible and reversible chemical-genetic technique, we find that transient αCaMKII overexpression at the time of recall impairs the retrieval of both newly formed one-hour object recognition memory and fear memories, as well as 1-month-old fear memories. Systematic analyses suggest that excessive αCaMKII activity-induced recall deficits are not caused by disrupting the retrieval access to the stored information but are, rather, due to the active erasure of the stored memories. Further experiments show that the recall-induced erasure of fear memories is highly restricted to the memory being retrieved while leaving other memories intact. Therefore, our study reveals a molecular genetic paradigm through which a given memory, such as new or old fear memory, can be rapidly and specifically erased in a controlled and inducible manner in the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-366
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 23 2008
Externally publishedYes



ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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