Attitudes about memory dampening drugs depend on context and country



When people take drugs such as propranolol in response to trauma, it may dampen their bad memories – tempering recall of a traumatic event. We examined people's attitudes toward these drugs. Americans and New Zealanders read about a hypothetical assault inserting themselves into a scenario as a victim attacked while serving on a peace keeping mission (soldier role) or while walking home from a job as a restaurant manager (civilian role). Then they told us whether they should receive a memory dampening drug, and whether they would want to take a memory dampening drug. Subjects were negatively disposed towards a memory dampening drug, but Americans who adopted the soldier role were more in favor of having access to the drug than those who adopted the civilian role. We discuss the implications of these findings in relation to an increasing trend in ‘cosmetic neurology’, medicating with the goal of enhancement, rather than therapy. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.