In Brief: A week to forget your fears?

October 29, 2010

Studies with mice have demonstrated that fearful or traumatic memories can be extinguished -- often temporarily, but sometimes permanently.

Now, researchers have identified a molecular basis for these two separate outcomes and they say their findings might eventually be applied to help people permanently overcome their fearful memories as well.

Roger Clem and Richard Huganir experimented with groups of both wild and mutant and found that the role of calcium-permeable glutamate receptors, known as AMPARs, was strengthened during fear conditioning, when the rodents were first learning to be afraid of a stimulus.

They noticed that this up-tick in AMPAR activity lasted for about a week after the initial fear conditioning, but that within this brief window of time, fearful memories could be permanently erased by behavioral experience.

Electrophysiological experiments with thin slices of the rodents’ brains confirmed that synaptic changes, acquired during fear conditioning, were actually reversed in mice that had undergone fear extinction training during this week-long window of opportunity.

Taken together, the researchers’ findings provide a specific molecular basis for permanent fear erasure and the relative instability of memories during that first week in the brain.

More information: Publication: Science, "Calcium-Permeable AMPA Receptor Dynamics Mediate Fear Memory Erasure," by R.L. Clem; R.L. Huganir at Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Baltimore, MD; R.L. Clem; R.L. Huganir at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Drug found that induces apoptosis in myofibroblasts reducing fibrosis in scleroderma

December 15, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has found that the drug navitoclax can induce apoptosis (self-destruction) in myofibroblasts in mice, reducing the spread of fibrosis in scleroderma. In their paper ...

How defeating THOR could bring a hammer down on cancer

December 14, 2017
It turns out Thor, the Norse god of thunder and the Marvel superhero, has special powers when it comes to cancer too.

Researchers track muscle stem cell dynamics in response to injury and aging

December 14, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) describes the biology behind why muscle stem cells respond differently to aging or injury. The findings, published in Cell Stem Cell, ...

'Human chronobiome' study informs timing of drug delivery, precision medicine approaches

December 13, 2017
Symptoms and efficacy of medications—and indeed, many aspects of the human body itself—vary by time of day. Physicians tell patients to take their statins at bedtime because the related liver enzymes are more active during ...

Study confirms link between the number of older brothers and increased odds of being homosexual

December 12, 2017
Groundbreaking research led by a team from Brock University has further confirmed that sexual orientation for men is likely determined in the womb.

Potassium is critical to circadian rhythms in human red blood cells

December 12, 2017
An innovative new study from the University of Surrey and Cambridge's MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, has uncovered the secrets of the circadian rhythms in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.