The science fiction film "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind" follows a couple who erase the memory of each other, but a new study claims that the idea isn't science fiction. Just science.
Researchers have found that when people actively try to forget an undesired memory, they can actually remove it from their unconscious mind.
Participants in the study were shown two images, like a coffee cup. Then some were told to forget the first image. Researchers wanted to see if, when subjects were shown a scrambled image of the object or other added visual noise, participants could identify the coffee cup.
As crazy as it sounds, participants had a harder time identifying the object if they were told to forget about it.
The study's researcher, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge said, "Basically, you're shutting down regions that would ordinarily play a role in seeing that object, just to keep the image from coming into the consciousness. The side effect of doing that is that whatever memory traces of the coffee cup were there, they are weakened, and later on, when you have to detect the cup in visual noise, you find just a bit harder."
So, no, you can't erase the memory of your ex, but you might be able to stop the memory from entering your conscious mind.
For future studies the researchers want to see if the same effects exist for long standing memories -- like your ex.