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

Dr. Jun-Hyeong Cho

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.

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Gene Predisposes Some to Focus on the Negative

Dr. Rebecca Todd Assistant Professor University of British Columbia Department of Psychology Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability 4342A-2260 West Mall Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Rebecca Todd
Assistant Professor
University of British Columbia
Department of Psychology
Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability
4342A-2260 West Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: What we found, in essence, is that some individuals are genetically predisposed to see the world more darkly than others. We find that a common gene variant is linked to perceiving emotional events –especially negative ones –¬ more vividly than others. This gene variant has been previously linked (by other researchers) to emotional memory and the likelihood of experiencing intrusive, or “flashback” memories following traumatic experience. Our findings suggest that in healthy young adults this enhanced emotional memory may be because individuals are more likely to perceive what’s emotionally relevant in the first place. We’ve all heard of rose colored glasses, but this is more like gene-colored glasses, tinted a bit darkly. Continue reading