Can we rewrite fearful memories to treat anxiety?



Memory creation is a complex brain process that involves storing and retrieving information.

Memories can be positive or negative. However, the overactivation of negative memories may play a role in mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety.

Experts believe that identifying and manipulating fear-based memories may lead to effective treatment options for people living with these conditions.

Recently, researchers from Boston University found that positive and negative memories are distinct in several ways.

These differences may make it possible in the future to target negative memories responsible for fear-based mental health conditions.

Memory is a complex neurochemical process of storing information in the brain. Memories consist of images, thoughts, and emotions based on what a person saw, heard, or experienced. In addition, an individual can perceive memories as positive or negative depending on how the brain processes them or the nature of the experience.

Yet when negative memories become recurrent or intrusive, they can lead to several mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People living with these conditions often experience intrusive fear-based thoughts or reoccurring memories of an actual event.

Identifying the process and location of negative memory storage in the brain may help scientists understand better ways to treat these conditions.

Recently, researchers at Boston University found more clues about where and how memories are stored in the brain. Using mice, the research team discovered that positive and negative emotional memories reside in distinct areas in a brain region called the hippocampus. Moreover, each type of memory communicates to other cells through different pathways in the brain.

The researchers say that this positive and negative memory mapping could help scientists target negative memories and lessen their impact on someone with fear-based mental health conditions.

The study appears in the journal Communications BiologyTrusted Source. The building blocks of memoryMemories are stored in the brain as cell groups called engramsTrusted Source.

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