AUG 04, 2020 3:31 PM PDT

Transcranial Stimulation Disrupts Fearful Memories

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Disrupting negative memory formation has been a challenge for years- involving treatments ranging from psychotherapy to pharmaceuticals. Now, researchers from the University of Bologna, Italy, have found a way to use transcranial stimulation (TMS) to stave off fearful memories. The researchers say their findings may be useful in developing treatments for PTSD. 

TMS happens when an electromagnetic coil is placed on a patient's head to create magnetic fields that change neural activity in specific areas of the brain. As TMS is a non-invasive procedure, it is considered attractive as a potential treatment procedure for mental health conditions. 

For the research, the scientists recruited 84 healthy volunteers. A day before TMS treatment, the researchers created an 'aversive memory' for each participant, combining an unpleasant stimulation with some images. 

The next day, the scientists exposed the participants to the same negative stimulus as the day before. Immediately afterward, they then used TMS or placebo (sham stimulations) to interfere with activity in different parts of their brains. 

The researchers then measured how each participant reacted to the adverse memory a day later. In doing so, they found that participants who had activity in their dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain responsible for working memory and cognitive flexibility) interfered with by TMS had a reduced psychological response to the unpleasant stimulus compared to other groups. Although they remembered the event, they did not undergo a negative effect. 

"This trial showed that it is feasible to alter the persistence of potentially traumatic memories. This may have crucial repercussions in the fields of rehabilitation and clinical medicine," says Professor Giuseppe di Pellegrino, lead author of the study. "We're dealing with a new technique that can be employed in different contexts and can assume a variety of functions, starting from treating PTSD, which will be the focus of our next study."

 

Sources: Neuroscience NewsEl Sevier

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
AUG 25, 2020
Neuroscience
Study Shows Exercise Relieves Major Depression
AUG 25, 2020
Study Shows Exercise Relieves Major Depression
Depression is a common mental condition that many feel at some point throughout life. While antidepressants work for som ...
SEP 02, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Feeling Tired? Scientists Use Brain Scans to Measure Fatigue
SEP 02, 2020
Feeling Tired? Scientists Use Brain Scans to Measure Fatigue
Yawning in the middle of the day is completely normal for people with hectic schedules. How do you know whether it&rsquo ...
SEP 11, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Frequent Cannabis Use Does Not Increase Pain Sensitivity
SEP 11, 2020
Frequent Cannabis Use Does Not Increase Pain Sensitivity
Researchers from the University of British Columbia have found that frequent cannabis use is not associated with increas ...
OCT 05, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Fecal Transplants Could Restore Cognitive Function in the Elderly
OCT 05, 2020
Fecal Transplants Could Restore Cognitive Function in the Elderly
An international team of researchers has found that fecal transplants could one day be used to restore cognitive functio ...
NOV 15, 2020
Neuroscience
Brain Chemical Noradrenaline Helps Us Adapt to Uncertainty
NOV 15, 2020
Brain Chemical Noradrenaline Helps Us Adapt to Uncertainty
Researchers from the University of Cambridge and University College London have found that a neurochemical known as nora ...
NOV 20, 2020
Neuroscience
The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Autoimmune Disease
NOV 20, 2020
The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Autoimmune Disease
Researchers from the University of Georgia have found more evidence for the link between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) a ...
Loading Comments...