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Research Finds How Post-traumatic Stress Leads to Long-Lasting Memories

The amygdala of the brain may be responsible for post-traumatic nightmares according// to a new research.

. Post-traumatic stress is a well recognized condition that results in unpleasant memories that can keep haunting a person for all their life. Now researchers have discovered what causes this following experiments on rats. This will also explain why an emotionally arousing event are remembered longer by a person than a more sedate event. Ulimately these applications will find ways to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

A research team led by UC Irvine neuroscientists has identified how the brain processes and stores emotional experiences as long-term memories. The study shows that emotionally arousing events activate the brain's amygdala, the almond-shaped portion of the brain involved in emotional learning and memory, which then increases a protein called "Arc" in the neurons in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in processing and enabling the storage of lasting memories. The researchers believe that Arc helps store these memories by strengthening the synapses, the connections between neurons.

"Emotionally neutral events generally are not stored as long-term memories," said Christa McIntyre, the first author of the paper and a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in UCI's School of Biological Sciences, working with James L. McGaugh, research professor and a fellow at the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. "On the other hand, emotionally arousing events, such as those of September 11, tend to be well-remembered after a single experience because they activate the amygdala.. The study appears in today's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In their experiments, the researchers placed a group of rats in a well-lit compartment with access to an adjacent dark compartment. Because rats are nocturnal and prefer dark environments, they
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