Scientists erase fear from the brain
Newly formed emotional memories can be erased from the human brain. This is shown by researchers from Uppsala University in a new study now being published by the academic journal Science. The findings may represent a breakthrough in research on memory and fear.
Thomas Ågren, a doctoral candidate at the Department of Psychology under the supervision of Professors Mats Fredrikson and Tomas Furmark, has shown, that it is possible to erase newly formed emotional memories from the human brain.
When a person learns something, a lasting long-term memory is created with the aid of a process of consolidation, which is based on the formation of proteins. When we remember something, the memory becomes unstable for a while and is then restabilized by another consolidation process. In other words, it can be said that we are not remembering what originally happened, but rather what we remembered the last time we thought about what happened. By disrupting the reconsolidation process that follows upon remembering, we can affect the content of memory.
In the study the researchers showed subjects a neutral picture and simultaneously administered an electric shock. In this way the picture came to elicit fear in the subjects which meant a fear memory had been formed. In order to activate this fear memory, the picture was then shown without any accompanying shock. For one experimental group the reconsolidation process was disrupted with the aid of repeated presentations of the picture. For a control group, the reconsolidation process was allowed to complete before the subjects were shown the same repeated presentations of the picture.
In that the experimental group was not allowed to reconsolidate the fear memory, the fear they previously associated with the picture dissipated. In other words, by disrupting the reconsolidation process, the memory was rendered neutral and no longer incited fear. At the same time, using a MR-scanner, the researchers were able to show that the traces of that memory also disappeared from the part of the brain that normally stores fearful memories, the nuclear group of amygdala in the temporal lobe.
"These findings may be a breakthrough in research on memory and fear. Ultimately the new findings may lead to improved treatment methods for the millions of people in the world who suffer from anxiety issues like phobias, post-traumatic stress, and panic attacks," says Thomas Ågren.
More information: Thomas Ågren et al. (2012) Disruption of reconsolidation erases a fear memory trace in the human amygdala, Science, Sept 21, 2012.
Journal reference: Science
Provided by Uppsala University
- Neuroscientists find memory storage, reactivation process more complex than previously thought Jan 31, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Regulating the formation of fear extinction memory Aug 15, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Neuroscientists Show How Brain Stores Memories of Specific Fears Apr 02, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Study offers new insight for preventing fear relapse after trauma Nov 29, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Researchers discover how old memories are re-saved and changed Jun 22, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
20 hours ago Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Activating an enzyme known to play a role in the anti-aging benefits of calorie restriction delays the loss of brain cells and preserves cognitive function in mice, according to a study published in the May ...
Neuroscience 10 hours ago | 5 / 5 (4) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Despite spending billions of dollars on research and development, drug companies have been unable to come up with effective treatments for dementia and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Now, A. ...
Neuroscience 13 hours ago | 4.9 / 5 (11) | 0 |
You're standing near an airport luggage carousel and your bag emerges on the conveyor belt, prompting you to spring into action. How does your brain make the shift from passively waiting to taking action when ...
Neuroscience 14 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Native peoples in regions where cameras are uncommon sometimes react with caution when their picture is taken. The fear that something must have been stolen from them to create the photo ...
Neuroscience 15 hours ago | 4.2 / 5 (5) | 0 |
In a remote fishing community in Venezuela, a lone fisherman sits on a cliff overlooking the southern Caribbean Sea. This man –– the lookout –– is responsible for directing his comrades on the water, ...
Neuroscience 17 hours ago | 4 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Australian scientists have charted the path of insulin action in cells in precise detail like never before. This provides a comprehensive blueprint for understanding what goes wrong in diabetes.
15 hours ago | 4.6 / 5 (7) | 0 |
An experimental sleeping pill from US drug company Merck is effective at helping people fall and stay asleep, according to reviewers at the US Food and Drug Administration, which could soon approve the new drug.
9 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0
A drug commonly used to treat depression and anxiety may improve a stress-related heart condition in people with stable coronary heart disease, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.
11 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Researchers at USC have found that a class of pharmaceuticals can both prevent and treat Alzheimer's Disease in mice.
12 hours ago | 5 / 5 (6) | 0 |
Children with autism showed significant improvement after six months of simple sensory exercises at home using everyday items such as scents, spoons and sponges, according to UC Irvine neurobiologists.
13 hours ago | 3 / 5 (1) | 0 |
In a striking, unexpected discovery, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have determined that vitamin C kills drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria in laboratory culture. The finding ...
15 hours ago | 5 / 5 (5) | 0 |