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article imageInjection to cure phobias could become a reality

By Alex Harrison     Mar 23, 2010 in World
Researchers have discovered that the part of the brain that is responsible for our phobias could be ´re-programed´ with an injection to stop us developing phobias such as fear of heights and spiders.
The researchers claim that fear is a learned habit and that it is possible to switch off that part of the brain reports The Telegraph.
"One day, our irrational phobias could become a thing of the past," said Prof Masayuki Yoshida, from the University of Hiroshima.
The researchers focused on the cerebellum which is the part of the brain responsable for us developing fears, they found that goldfish became desensitized to their fear of a light being flashed in their eyes. "By administering a low voltage electric shock every time a light was shone, the fish were taught to associate the light with being shocked, which slowed their hearts the typical fish reaction to a fright´ Said prof Masayuki.
"As you would expect, the goldfish we used in our study soon became afraid of the flash of light because, whether or not we actually gave them a shock, they had quickly learned to expect one´
"Fear was demonstrated by their heart beats decreasing, in a similar way to how our heart rate increases when someone gives us a fright."
Then the researchers injected the fish with a local anaesthetic called lidocaine and repeated the test. The fish that had been injected were found to have a much lower response then the previous test indicating they had less fear.
More about Phobias, Cure, Japan
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