Navigation Links
Memories That Make Your Heart Race Can Be Defanged
Date:12/9/2009

Discovery may help people with anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- A new study suggests that people might be able to reduce the power of fearful memories that cause physical symptoms when they're triggered.

The research is preliminary, and study co-author Elizabeth Phelps cautioned that it doesn't provide an immediate cure for such conditions as anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. But it does offer some hope for new ways to treat them in the future, said Phelps, who directs a laboratory at New York University's psychology department.

The key, she said, is to interfere with a memory "at a particular time when we know it may be vulnerable or susceptible to being changed."

The memories in question link an emotional fear to a physical response, she said.

For example, imagine you are bitten by the pit bull next door, and then you come across the dog again. You'll have a memory of the incident, Phelps said, but also possibly another kind of memory that will kick in a physical reaction.

"You'll start to tense up, sweat a little and your heart will race," she said. "That's the memory we're talking about."

This kind of "fear memory" is stored in a different part of the brain than the actual memory of the event that triggered it, she said.

In people with anxiety problems and post-traumatic stress disorder, such memories can lead to major trouble.

Phelps and her colleagues suspected that there are times when the memories are susceptible to influence. They tested their theories and report their findings in the Dec. 10 issue of Nature.

The researchers instilled fear memories in study participants by shocking them when they saw certain visual images. The idea was to make them develop a fear memory connected to the image and then see if they could undo it.

The researchers found that they could defang the memory a day later by convincing a person that the images were safe. They found they could do this by acting quickly after the images triggered the response, Phelps said.

Essentially, the brain appears to be able to overwrite the memory during a short time period, she said.

In the big picture, the research "might help us develop interventions that are more long-lasting, more effective in the long term" than current ones, she said.

Joy Hirsch, director of Columbia University Medical Center's program for imaging and cognitive sciences, said the research provides "a fundamental basis to be hopeful that one's fears and anxieties that are the result of traumatic memories can be resolved."

The focus "is not on natural degeneration of a memory, which would be forgetting," she said. "The focus is in changing the memory in some way not to falsify it. You call it up, and you interject something or you modify the way you think about it. You change it in some way; then it reconsolidates."

But couldn't changing memories be dangerous?

"Everything we understand about how memory works will help us manipulate memories," Phelps said. "And that can be used for good or evil."

More information

McGill University has more on memory and the brain.



SOURCES: Elizabeth Phelps, Ph.D., lab director, Department of Psychology, New York University, New York City; Joy Hirsch, Ph.D., professor and director, program for imaging and cognitive sciences, Columbia University Medical Center, New York City; Dec. 10, 2009, Nature


'/>"/>
Copyright©2009 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. The memories you want to forget are the hardest ones to lose
2. Study Probes Roots of Fearful Memories
3. What emotional memories are made of
4. Hormone May Play Key Part in Creating Memories
5. Penn researchers pinpoint the brain waves that distinguish false memories from real ones
6. Brain Yields Clues to False Memories
7. The Eyes of Christmas: Top Stars Telecast 12 Hours of Holiday Music and Memories for the Visually Impaired to Over 80 Million Homes on Multiple Cable Networks
8. Very young found to process fear memories in unique way
9. Mothers Day Gifts from Deerfield Spa Give Moms What They Love Most ... Photographs and Memories
10. Study shows false memories complicate end-of-life treatment decisions
11. When your memories can no longer be trusted
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:7/23/2017)... ... July 24, 2017 , ... Three ... in Medicine (AAPM) 59th Annual Meeting & Exhibition, to be held in Denver, ... profession, hospital administrators and journalists can visit the AAPM Facebook page to watch ...
(Date:7/23/2017)... ... 23, 2017 , ... Better education to coaches and parents ... work today at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’ s ... to prospectively document the association between sports specialization and lower extremity injuries in ...
(Date:7/23/2017)... ... July 23, 2017 , ... Longtime Brevard County pain ... Melbourne, a practice owned by Physician Partners of America at 109 Silver Palm ... also is certified in pediatrics, emergency medicine and anesthesiology. , A longtime practitioner ...
(Date:7/22/2017)... ... 22, 2017 , ... More than 130,000 Anterior Cruciate Ligament ... pain medication after three months post-operatively. However, researchers presenting their work at the ... Ontario, Canada found that those patients who were filling opioid prescriptions prior to ...
(Date:7/21/2017)... ... July 21, 2017 , ... The Wettstein ... to communities in the greater Denver region, is announcing a charity drive to ... very rare kind of epilepsy. , Until a few months ago, Dominik was ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:7/13/2017)... FREMONT, Calif. , July 13, 2017 RK ... (CA) Board of Pharmacy certification for its Fremont, ... chain support solutions in the Tri-Valley and San ... The City of Fremont , with its ... Logistics Group to provide such a powerful resource to the ...
(Date:7/11/2017)... WHIPPANY, N.J. , July 11, 2017  Bayer has ... across eight countries as part of its prestigious Bayer Hemophilia ... Children,s Hospital of Philadelphia and Uniformed ... are among the winners. Grant recipients were announced ... Thrombosis and Hemostasis (ISTH) 2017 Congress, Berlin, Germany ...
(Date:7/10/2017)... -- US medical equipment and supply demand is forecast to ... Medical Equipment & Supplies: United States , a ... in demand for medical services – driven in large ... by gains in disposable personal income – will boost ... will also drive sales as providers and patients seek ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: