Overcome you fear: Austrian Neuroscience Advancement

Our brain is a high-speed myriad of synapsis, which requires constant stimulated communication in order to overcome obstacles, and challenges.

Austrian scientists alongside their American counterparts have recently highlighted how communications between the control, and fear centers of our brain can help us overcome fear.

Dr. Nicolas Singewald, Head of Neuropharmacology at the University of Innsbruck, and his research highlight how fear can be mitigated, and even extinct. Singewald’s research builds on the notions of Ivan Pavlov, the renowned Russian physiologist who coined the term ‘extinction’, which describes gradual weakening of a conditioned response that results in the behavior decreasing or disappearing.

The research team including University of Innsbruck scientists Christina Brehm, Nicolas Singewald, and Nigel Whittle looked at the communication between the prefrontal cortex (controls the fear in our brains) and amygdala (generates fear in our brain). The activity, and intensity between these two parts determines the rate of fear extinction in them.

With this in mind, the researchers conducted manipulation experiments on mice that measured the extinction rate while the prefrontal cortex-amygdala neural circuit was stimulated. Singewald et al. noticed that a targeted “…stimulation of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC)–amygdala pathway facilitated extinction memory formation” as their findings notes.

This stimulation is done via optogenics i.e. a laser that is able to surgically target the exact prefrontal cortex-amygdala neural circuit. The University of Innsbruck scientists hope that with these new findings they will be able to research which neuro receptors along the prefrontal cortex-amygdala neural circuit would be susceptive to pharmological influence.

In effect, it is not utopian to suggest that fear might be treatable in the near future with targeted medication or therapy, thanks to the research findings of the University of Innsbruck scientists, and their partners.

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Saturday, 18 November 2017