Can Fearful Memories be got out of our mind?

Scientists now know how to make you forget your fears — at least if you’re a mouse. By turning off a newly discovered brain pathway, scientists were able to make mice lose their fear of a shock. It’s early research, but it may point toward methods that could help people with anxiety and PTSD. 
After finding a new pathway in the brain important for creating fearful memories, scientists trained mice to fear a high-pitched tone by shocking the rodents every time they heard it, according to a study published today in Nature Neuroscience. They waited til the rodents would freeze in fear even without the shock before proceeding to the next stage: viewing the mouse brains. Using a specialized microscopy technique, the scientists observed that there was growth in the neurons along that pathway. So what would happen if they could turn that pathway off?
Being able to feel fear is crucial to survival; it teaches us to become more careful in dangerous situations. But many people’s fear systems are too efficient. They feel a lot of fear even when there’s nothing to be afraid of, and this leads to anxiety disorder — which 18 percent of Americans have — and PTSD, which 8 percent of Americans will experience at some point. 
Think about the brain like a series of roads. We used to think that fear was a single one-way street that started at the part of the brain charged with interpreting sound — the auditory cortex — and ended at a place that processes emotion, called the lateral amygdala. But today’s study suggests that for us to truly feel fear, the information also needs to travel up a different one-way street, from the amygdala all the way back to the auditory cortex. By cutting off this second one-way street, we can prevent mice from feeling fear. “If we can reduce the fear response in mice, hopefully this will help us find some way to reduce this in humans too,” says Yang Yang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences who led today’s study.

* Vocab:
high-pitched tone (n) /ˌhʌɪˈpɪtʃt/: a loud noise.
- rodent (n) /ˈrəʊd(ə)nt/: animals like rats, mice, hamsters, etc.
- freeze in fear (exp): too scared to move.
- auditory cortex (n) /ˈɔːdɪt(ə)ri/:a part of auditory system that processes the sounds.
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