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Calming fear during sleep
Date:9/22/2013

, noted Hauner, also a research scientist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

"While this particular odorant was being presented during sleep, it was reactivating the memory of that face over and over again which is similar to the process of fear extinction during exposure therapy," Hauner said.

When the subjects woke up, they were exposed to both faces. When they saw the face linked to the smell they had been exposed to during sleep, their fear reactions were lower than their fear reactions to the other face.

Fear was measured in two ways: through small amounts of sweat in the skin, similar to a lie detector test, and through neuroimaging with fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging). The fMRI results showed changes in regions associated with memory, such as the hippocampus, and changes in patterns of brain activity in regions associated with emotion, such as the amygdala. These brain changes reflected a decrease in reactivity that was specific to the targeted face image associated with the odorant presented during sleep.


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Contact: Marla Paul
Marla-Paul@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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