Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study charts origins of fear

16.09.2005


A team of researchers led by the University of Toronto has charted how and where a painful event becomes permanently etched in the brain – a discovery that has implications for pain-related emotional disorders such as anxiety and post-traumatic stress.



U of T physiology professor Min Zhuo and his colleagues Professor Bong-Kiun Kaang of Seoul National University in South Korea, and Professor Bao-Ming Li of Fudan University in China have identified where emotional fear memory and pain begin by studying the biochemical processes in a different part of the brain. In a paper published in the Sept.15 issue of Neuron the researchers use mice to show how receptors activated in the pre-frontal cortex, the portion of the brain believed to be involved with higher intellectual functions, play a critical role in the development of fear. Previous research had pointed to activation in the hippocampus, an area buried in the forebrain that regulates emotion and memory, as the origin of fear memory.

"This is critical as it changes how and where scientists thought fear was developed," says Zhuo, the EJLB-CIHR Michael Smith Chair in Neurosciences and Mental Health. "By understanding the biomolecular mechanisms behind fear, we could potentially create therapeutic ways to ease emotional pain in people. Imagine reducing the ability of distressing events, such as amputations, to be permanently imprinted in the brain."


Zhuo says that fear memory does not occur immediately after a painful event; rather, it takes time for the memory to become part of our consciousness. The initial event activates NMDA receptors – molecules on cells that receive messages and then produce specific physiological effect in the cell – which are normally quiet but triggered when the brain receives a shock. Over time, the receptors leave their imprint on brain cells.

By delivering shocks to mice, the researchers activated the NMDA receptors and traced a subunit of the molecule – a protein called NR2B – long believed to be associated with fear memory in the hippocampus and the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure in front of the hippocampus. To further test the protein’s influence, researchers reduced the amount in mice and found they were less hesitant to avoid shocks. "We tested the animals using both spatial and auditory cues," Zhuo says. "In one experiment, the mice received small shocks when entering a chamber and they developed fear memory. In another experiment, we used sound tones to be associated with shocks. When NR2B was blocked, they no longer avoided the chamber or reacted to the tone."

Zhuo and his team then studied the mice’s brain slices and discovered traces of NR2B in the pre-frontal cortex, supporting their theory that fear memory develops in that region. "By identifying NR2B in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, we propose that fear memory originates from a network of receptors, rather than one simple area," Zhuo says. "It is more complex than previously thought."

The next step, according to Zhuo, is to determine how NR2B directly affects memory formation and storage in the brain. "While we know it exists in the hippocampus, amygdala and the pre-frontal cortex, we don’t know exactly how it alters them," Zhuo says. "Once we understand the implications for each part, we will be able to reduce levels of NR2B accordingly and effectively reduce fear memory. In the future, perhaps people can take therapeutic measures before experiencing a particularly discomforting situation." The University of Toronto Innovations Foundation is currently working with Zhuo to push for the translation of this finding into treatments.

Karen Kelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utoronto.ca

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

nachricht First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Research reveals how order first appears in liquid crystals

23.05.2018 | Life Sciences

Space-like gravity weakens biochemical signals in muscle formation

23.05.2018 | Life Sciences

NIST puts the optical microscope under the microscope to achieve atomic accuracy

23.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>