Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Memory appears susceptible to eradication of fear responses

Date:
February 18, 2013
Source:
Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA)
Summary:
Fear responses can only be erased when people learn something new while retrieving the fear memory. This is the conclusion of a new study.

Fear responses can only be erased when people learn something new while retrieving the fear memory.
Credit: lassedesignen / Fotolia

Fear responses can only be erased when people learn something new while retrieving the fear memory. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by scientists from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and published in the journal Science.

Researchers Dieuwke Sevenster MSc, Dr Tom Beckers and Prof. Merel Kindt have developed a method to determine whether an acquired fear response is susceptible to modification. By doing so, they have revealed the circumstances under which an acquired fear response can be eradicated. In order to measure whether a person actually learnt something new, the researchers used a measure for Prediction Error -- in other words, the discrepancy between a person's anticipation of what is going to happen and what actually happens.

No fear response

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is currently the most common and effective type of treatment for people suffering from anxiety disorders. However, the effects are often short-lived and the fear returns in many patients. One major finding of Van Kindt's research lab is that when participants were given propranolol, a beta blocker, while retrieving a specific fear memory, the acquired fear response was shown to be totally erased a day or month later. The researchers repeatedly found that the fear did not come back, despite the use of techniques specifically aimed to make it return. This indicates that the fear memory was either fully eradicated, or could no longer be accessed. One crucial finding was that while participants could still remember the association with the fear, that particular memory no longer triggered the former fear response.

Fear conditioning

For their study the researchers used a fear conditioning procedure in which a specific picture was followed by a nasty painful stimulus. While the participants viewed the pictures, the researchers measured the anticipation of the painful stimulus as well as the more autonomous fear response on the basis of the startle reflex.

The current findings will contribute to the further development of more effective and efficient therapies for patients suffering from excessive anxiety disorders, such as trauma victims. There was no independent measure to indicate whether the memory is susceptible to modification up until now. The researchers have shown that the fear response can be eradicated completely, provided that the person concerned actually learns something new while retrieving the fear memory.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. Sevenster, T. Beckers, M. Kindt. Prediction Error Governs Pharmacologically Induced Amnesia for Learned Fear. Science, 2013; 339 (6121): 830 DOI: 10.1126/science.1231357

Cite This Page:

Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). "Memory appears susceptible to eradication of fear responses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130218102914.htm>.
Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). (2013, February 18). Memory appears susceptible to eradication of fear responses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130218102914.htm
Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). "Memory appears susceptible to eradication of fear responses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130218102914.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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