17 Aug Weakening Neural Connections Can Eliminate Fearful Memories
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jun-Hyeong Cho MD PhD
Department of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology
University of California, Riverside
Riverside, CA 92521
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: To survive in a dynamic environment, animals develop fear responses to dangerous situations. For these adaptive fear responses to be developed, the brain must discriminate between different sensory cues and associate only relevant stimuli with aversive events.
In our current study, we investigated the neural mechanism how the brain does this, using a mouse model of fear learning and memory. Our study demonstrates that the formation of fear memory associated with an auditory cue requires selective synaptic strengthening in neural pathways that convey the auditory signals to the amygdala, an essential brain area for fear learning and memory.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: Because fear memory associated with a specific auditory cue is encoded by selective synaptic strengthening in neural pathways that convey the auditory signals to the amygdala, the fear memory can be erased by weakening the connections. Our study demonstrates its feasibility. Our findings also provide important insights for developing a novel approach to attenuate pathological fear in PTSD while preserving adaptive fear memories.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Our approach to manipulate functionally defined neural circuits can also be used to investigate the neural mechanisms of other types of associative learning and memory. We are planning to use the same approach to investigate how the brain encodes memory associated with a reward cue, which has implication in understanding the pathophysiology of addictive behaviors.
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Citation: Woong Bin Kim, Jun-Hyeong Cho. Encoding of Discriminative Fear Memory by Input-Specific LTP in the Amygdala. Neuron, 2017; DOI: 1016/j.neuron.2017.08.004
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