Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Computational Models Used To Study Fear; Could Help PTSD Victims

Date:
October 1, 2009
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
Researchers have started using computational models of the brain, making it easier to study the brain's connections. An electrical and computer engineering doctoral student has discovered new evidence on how the brain reacts to fear, including important findings that could help victims of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The brain is a complex system made of billions of neurons and thousands of connections that relate to every human feeling, including one of the strongest emotions, fear. Most neurological fear studies have been rooted in fear-conditioning experiments. Now, University of Missouri researchers have started using computational models of the brain, making it easier to study the brain’s connections. Guoshi Li, an electrical and computer engineering doctoral student, has discovered new evidence on how the brain reacts to fear, including important findings that could help victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Related Articles


“Computational models make it much easier to study the brain because they can effectively integrate different types of information related to a problem into a computational framework and analyze possible neural mechanisms from a systems perspective. We simulate activity and test a variety of “what if” scenarios without having to use human subjects in a rapid and inexpensive way,” Li said.

From previous experiments, scientists have found that fear can subside when overcome with fear extinction memory, but it is not permanently lost. Fear extinction is a process in which a conditioned response to a stimulant that produces fear gradually diminishes over time as subjects, such as rats in auditory fear experiments, learn to disassociate a response from a stimulus. One theory has concluded that fear extinction memory deletes fear memory, and another concluded that fear memory is not lost, but is inhibited by extinction memory as fear can recover with the passage of time after extinction.

“Fear extinction memory is not well understood, and our computational model can capture the neuron response well in rat during auditory fear conditioning with a mixture of mathematics and biophysical data,” said Li. “Our main contribution is that our model predicts that fear memory is only partially erased by extinction, and inhibition is necessary for a complete extinction, which is a reconciliation of the erasure and inhibition theories. Furthermore, our model shows that the inhibitory connection from interneurons to pyramidal cells serve as an important site for the storage of extinction memory.”

For PTSD victims, the fear circuit is disrupted and they cannot retrieve the fear extinction memory. However, the fear extinction memory exists, so the fear memory dominates every time victims get a fear cue. Li and his collaborators are targeting the inhibitory connection in the brain that makes it possible to retrieve the extinction memory. Li hopes that his research can contribute to new drugs that can help PTSD victims.

“Treatment for PTSD patients depends on which connection stores the fear extinction memory and which circuit misfires,” Li said. “With our model, we can figure out what specific connections store fear/extinction memory and how such connections are disrupted in the pathology of PTSD, which may lead to the suggestions of new drugs to treat the disease.”

Li, in collaboration with Satish Nair, professor of electrical and computer engineering who just received a three-year National Institute of Health grant for further research in fear modeling, and Gregory Quirk, a neuroscientist in the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine research, has been published in the Journal of Neurophysiology and Psychiatric Annals.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Computational Models Used To Study Fear; Could Help PTSD Victims." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090930165034.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2009, October 1). Computational Models Used To Study Fear; Could Help PTSD Victims. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090930165034.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Computational Models Used To Study Fear; Could Help PTSD Victims." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090930165034.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Binge-Watching TV Linked To Loneliness

Binge-Watching TV Linked To Loneliness

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) Researchers at University of Texas at Austin found a link between binge-watching TV shows and feelings of loneliness and depression. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Signs You Might Be The Passive Aggressive Friend

Signs You Might Be The Passive Aggressive Friend

BuzzFeed (Jan. 28, 2015) "No, I&apos;m not mad. Why, are you mad?" Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com
City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Model schools are rethinking how they engage with the community to help enhance the lives of the students and their parents. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Rooftop Comedy (Jan. 26, 2015) A man in Texas saved every penny he found for 65 years, and this week he finally cashed them in. Bank tellers at Prosperity Bank in Slaton, Texas were shocked when Ira Keys arrived at their bank with over 500 pounds of loose pennies stored in coffee cans. After more than an hour of sorting and counting, it turned out the 81 year-old was in possession of 81,600 pennies, or $816. And he&apos;s got more at home! Video provided by Rooftop Comedy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins