Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Changes in patterns of brain activity predict fear memory formation

Date:
March 1, 2013
Source:
Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA)
Summary:
Psychologists have discovered that changes in patterns of brain activity during fearful experiences predict whether a long-term fear memory is formed.

Psychologists at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) have discovered that changes in patterns of brain activity during fearful experiences predict whether a long-term fear memory is formed. The research results have recently been published in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience.

Researchers Renee Visser MSc, Dr Steven Scholte, Tinka Beemsterboer MSc and Prof. Merel Kindt discovered that they can predict future fear memories by looking at patterns of brain activity during fearful experiences. Up until now, there was no way of predicting fear memory. It was also, above all, unclear whether the selection of information to be stored in the long-term memory occurred at the time of fear learning or after the event.

Picture predicts pain stimulus

During magnetic resonance brain imaging (MRI), participants saw neutral pictures of faces and houses, some of which were followed by a small electric shock. In this way, the participants formed fear memories. They showed fear responses when the pictures were shown that were paired with shocks. This fear response can be measured in the brain, but is also evident from increased pupil dilation when someone sees the picture. After a few weeks, the participants returned to the lab and were shown the same images. Brain activity and pupil diameter were once again measured. The extent to which the pupil dilated when seeing the images that were previously followed by a shock, was considered an expression of the previously formed fear memory.

Pattern Analysis

In order to analyse the fMRI data, (spatial) patterns of brain activity (Multi-Voxel Pattern Analysis, or MVPA) were analysed. By correlating patterns of various stimulus presentations with each other, it is possible to measure the extent to which the representation of two stimuli is the same. It appears that images that have nothing in common, such as houses and faces, lead to increasing neural pattern similarity when they predict danger. This does not occur when they do not predict danger. This leads to the formation of stronger fear responses. The extent to which this occurs is an indication of fear memory formation: the stronger the response during learning, the stronger the fear response will be in the long term.

These findings may lead to greater insights into the formation of emotional memory. As a result, it is possible to conduct experimental research into the mechanisms that strengthen, weaken or even erase fear memory in a more direct fashion, without having to wait until the fear memory is expressed.

The research is part of the Vici project of Prof. Merel Kindt, which is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).


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. Renιe M Visser, H Steven Scholte, Tinka Beemsterboer, Merel Kindt. Neural pattern similarity predicts long-term fear memory. Nature Neuroscience, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nn.3345

Cite This Page:

Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). "Changes in patterns of brain activity predict fear memory formation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130301122548.htm>.
Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). (2013, March 1). Changes in patterns of brain activity predict fear memory formation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130301122548.htm
Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). "Changes in patterns of brain activity predict fear memory formation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130301122548.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) — Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) — A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) — Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. 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