Scientists could be a step closer to finding a way to reduce the impact of traumatic memories, according to a Texas A&M University study published recently in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
The report details a study by researchers from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the Institute for Neuroscience. Stephen Maren, professor of psychological and brain sciences, said the group’s findings suggest that procedures used by clinicians to indirectly reactivate traumatic memories render a window whereby those memories can be altered, or even erased completely.
In therapy, imaginal reminders are often used to safely retrieve traumatic memories of experiences. For example, Maren said a military veteran wounded by an improvised explosive device may be asked to re-experience trauma cues—like the lights and sounds of the explosion—without the negative consequences. The idea is that the fear responses can be dampened through this exposure therapy.
“The one major challenge is when you do the extinction procedures, it doesn’t erase the original trauma memory,” Maren said. “It’s always there and can bubble back up, which is what causes relapse for people who re-experience fear.”
With this in mind, the researchers hoped to answer whether they could isolate a memory and drive fear responses by reactivating it artificially—and potentially disrupt the original memory itself. Maren said their findings suggest that procedures currently used by clinicians to indirectly reactivate traumatic memories create an opportunity to change or eliminate them.
To do this, the researchers used a conditioning procedure in which a cue becomes indirectly associated with a fearful event. When the cue is presented later, it indirectly reactivates a memory of the event and increases activity in the hippocampus, a brain area important for memory.
The study showed that indirectly reactivating a contextual fear memory through re-exposure to the cue can make the memory vulnerable to disruption. Maren said further research is needed to answer if scientists can produce a permanent loss of the traumatic information.
Brain sciences researcher pinpoints brain circuit that triggers fear relapse
Reed L. Ressler et al, Covert capture and attenuation of a hippocampus-dependent fear memory, Nature Neuroscience (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41593-021-00825-5
Researchers have found that they can indirectly retrieve and weaken traumatic memories (2021, April 8)
retrieved 8 April 2021
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
- South African regulator rejects Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine - October 20, 2021
- Second wave of pandemic not receded yet, third wave feared post-Diwali: Maha health minister - October 20, 2021
- WHO chief discusses Covaxin, resumption of AstraZeneca vaccine supplies to COVAX facility with Health Minister Mandaviya - October 20, 2021
- Trivitron Healthcare in collaboration with Diagon- Vanguard Diagnostics launches Diagon’s Coagulation range in India - October 20, 2021
- Breast cancer early detection, screening, and management – what we need to know - October 20, 2021
- WHO’s technical advisory group to meet on Oct 26 to consider Covaxin - October 19, 2021
- 163 oxygen plants set up in MP after shortage during 2nd COVID-19 wave: CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan - October 19, 2021
- India’s R-value below 1 since September, researchers say - October 19, 2021
- Mumbai: Double vaccine jab not mandatory to enter theatres, colleges to reopen with 50% attendance - October 19, 2021
- Daily exercise routine, balanced diet, active lifestyle & quality sleep key to success in personal & professional lives: Experts - October 19, 2021