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article imageCan fear be prevented?

By Tim Sandle     Mar 1, 2014 in Science
Scientists have identified neurons in the brain that are involved in encoding fear in mice. This has led to suggestions that it might be possible to "eliminate fear."
It may seem out of a Harlan Ellison story, but some scientists think that it could be possible to block the neural pathways involved in the emotion of 'fear'. Scientists have identified inhibitory interneurons in the hippocampus (the brain region involved in memory), that help to ensure the formation of neutral memories in the face of an unrelated, fearful event.
According to the BBC, scientists have identified the parts of the brain involved with fear. The investigation allowed the team to “peek into the mouse’s brain and zoom into the cells of interest while the animal was learning.”
Scientist magazine explains that the research team used advanced imaging to monitor the brains of mice as they underwent a classic fear conditioning experiment. The researchers found that the activation of certain brain neurons, in a region known as CA1, were critical for the mice to associate the fearful stimulus with aspects of different environments.
The scientists are of the view that if they apply their research to humans, then their results may have implications for understanding post-traumatic stress disorder. By understanding how the circuits in our brain influence memory under normal conditions, the researchers hope they can try to understand what actually went wrong during psychiatric disorders.
This research is the latest step in understanding fear and the brain. Earlier this year the Digital Journal reported that a research have managed to trained mice to fear a cage or a tone by administering a foot shock in the cage or while the tone was played. Furthermore, last year the Digital Journal described studies in rats where researchers had developed a method for blocking harmful memories associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and drug addiction.
More about Fear, Memories, Trauma, Hippocampus, posttraumatic stress disorder
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