Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Trauma switch identified: Mechanism protects our brains from turning stress and trauma into post-traumatic stress disorder

Date:
October 5, 2012
Source:
The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry
Summary:
Researchers have for the first time identified the mechanism that protects us from developing uncontrollable fear.

Researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School have for the first time identified the mechanism that protects us from developing uncontrollable fear.

Our brains have the extraordinary capacity to adapt to changing environments -- experts call this 'plasticity'. Plasticity protects us from developing mental disorders as the result of stress and trauma.

Researchers found that stressful events re-programme certain receptors in the emotional centre of the brain (the amygdala), which the receptors then determine how the brain reacts to the next traumatic event.

These receptors (called protease-activated receptor 1 or PAR1) act in the same way as a command centre, telling neurons whether they should stop or accelerate their activity.

Before a traumatic event, PAR1s usually tell amygdala neurons to remain active and produce vivid emotions. However, after trauma they command these neurons to stop activating and stop producing emotions -- so protecting us from developing uncontrollable fear.

This helps us to keep our fear under control, and not to develop exaggerated responses to mild or irrelevant fear triggers -- for example, someone who may have witnessed a road traffic accident who develops a fear of cars or someone who may have had a dog jump up on them as a child and who now panics when they see another dog.

The research team used mice in which the PAR1 receptors were genetically de-activated and found that the animals developed a pathological fear in response to even mild, aversive stimuli.

The study was led by Professor Robert Pawlak of University of Exeter Medical School. He said: "The discovery that the same receptor can either awaken neurons or 'switch them off' depending on previous trauma and stress experience, adds an entirely new dimension to our knowledge of how the brain operates and emotions are formed."

Professor Pawlak added: "We are now planning to extend our study to investigate if the above mechanisms, or genetic defects of the PAR1 receptor, are responsible for the development of anxiety disorders and depression in human patients. There is more work to be done, but the potential for the development of future therapies based on our findings is both exciting and intriguing."

The article describing the above findings has recently been published in Molecular Psychiatry.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J-M Bourgognon, E Schiavon, H Salah-Uddin, A E Skrzypiec, B K Attwood, R S Shah, S G Patel, M Mucha, R A John Challiss, I D Forsythe, R Pawlak. Regulation of neuronal plasticity and fear by a dynamic change in PAR1–G protein coupling in the amygdala. Molecular Psychiatry, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/mp.2012.133

Cite This Page:

The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry. "Trauma switch identified: Mechanism protects our brains from turning stress and trauma into post-traumatic stress disorder." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121005103330.htm>.
The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry. (2012, October 5). Trauma switch identified: Mechanism protects our brains from turning stress and trauma into post-traumatic stress disorder. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121005103330.htm
The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry. "Trauma switch identified: Mechanism protects our brains from turning stress and trauma into post-traumatic stress disorder." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121005103330.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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