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MIT's McGovern Institute honors Emory neuroscientist for contributions to psychiatry
Date:2/8/2008

xtinction, a process by which learned associations such as fearful memories eventually disappear. Extinction is not merely the gradual decay of memory. Instead, Davis has shown that extinction involves an active process that, like the acquisition of fear memories, depends on NMDA receptors. Understanding the balance between acquisition and extinction of fearful memories is of great importance for psychiatric conditions such as anxiety disorders and PTSD, and based on his studies with rats, Davis proposed that drugs that promote NMDA receptor signaling could be used therapeutically to enhance fear extinction in humans.

In collaboration with clinical colleagues at Emory, Davis recently confirmed this idea, showing that the drug D-cycloserine can enhance the effects of psychotherapy as a treatment for fear of heights. This approach also shows promise for treating other disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); Davis is currently testing D-cycloserine, in combination with virtual reality-based psychotherapy, on Iraq veterans suffering from PTSD.

The McGovern Institute will award the Scolnick Prize to Dr. Davis on Monday April 14, 2008, at 4pm. Dr. Davis will deliver a lecture entitled "Neurobiology of Fear, Anxiety and Extinction: Implications for Psychotherapy", followed by a reception, at the McGovern Institute in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex, 43 Vassar Street (building 46, room 3002) in Cambridge. The event is free and open to the public.


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Contact: Gayle Lutchen
gwolf@mit.edu
McGovern Institute for Brain Research
Source:Eurekalert

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