Scientists discover a new pathway for fear deep within the brain

A team of CSHL scientists have discovered a new neural circuit in the brain that directly links the site of fear memory with an area of the brainstem that controls behavior. Far-reaching neurons in the central amygdala, the location of fear memory in the brain seen here in red (rightl), directly contact neurons in the brainstem, here in green (left).

A team of CSHL scientists have discovered a new neural circuit in the brain that directly links the site of fear memory with an area of the brainstem that controls behavior. Far-reaching neurons in the central amygdala, the location of fear memory in the brain seen here in red (rightl), directly contact neurons in the brainstem, here in green (left).

Cold Spring Harbor, NY – Fear is primal. In the wild, it serves as a protective mechanism, allowing animals to avoid predators or other perceived threats. For humans, fear is much more complex. A normal amount keeps us safe from danger. But in extreme cases, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), too much fear can prevent people from living healthy, productive lives. Researchers are actively working to understand how the brain translates fear into action. Today, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) announce the discovery of a new neural circuit in the brain that directly links the site of fear memory with an area of the brainstem that controls behavior…”

Shared by blog Tracing Knowledge on 11 february 2014. To read complete post and full references please click here.

“…Li and his colleagues explored how these long-range neurons participate in fear conditioning. They trained animals to associate a particular sound with a shock, conditioning the animals to fear the sound. In these animals, the activity of the long-range projection neurons in the central amygdala became enhanced….” As this paragraph from the above study reports, great part of the research was based on studying a type of fear that had been conditioned by the same scientists on to animals. And this “deliberate conditioning” showed to have an effect on the activity of certain neurons. In a similar way, this is the work that hypnotherapy proposes. By mentally rehearsing behaviour under a hypnotic state, we have the possibility of learning to associate that which we are thinking of to a pleasant state of mind, a relaxed hypnotic state from which we can access productive emotions and feelings such as confidence, joy, excitement etc. With the contribution of hypnosis we may be able to learn to associate, instead of “a particular sound with a shock”: a particular state of mind with a situation”.

 

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About Anna Pons

Certificat (CPPD), Post Graduat Certificat (PGCert) i Post Graduat Diploma (PGD) en Hipnoteràpia Clínica, London College of Clinical Hypnosis (LCCH) i Universitat de West London (UWL)
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