Could lead to improved treatments for schizophrenia, PTSD, depression and anxiety.
It centers on an inhibitory neurotransmitter called "GABA" and its concentration in the hippocampus:
Sounds promising. I myself have long suffered from depression and anxiety, and occasional flashbacks to negative memories. I take an antidepressant and, occasionally, something for anxiety. But it sure would be nice to have something that just allows me to forget what I want to forget and not have it pop up at the most inopportune moments.
Scientists have identified a key chemical within the 'memory' region of the brain that allows us to suppress unwanted thoughts, helping explain why people who suffer from disorders such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and schizophrenia often experience persistent intrusive thoughts when these circuits go awry.
We are sometimes confronted with reminders of unwanted thoughtsthoughts about unpleasant memories, images or worries. When this happens, the thought may be retrieved, making us think about it again even though we prefer not to. While being reminded in this way may not be a problem when our thoughts are positive, if the topic was unpleasant or traumatic, our thoughts may be very negative, worrying or ruminating about what happened, taking us back to the event.
"Our ability to control our thoughts is fundamental to our wellbeing," explains Professor Michael Anderson from the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at the University of Cambridge. "When this capacity breaks down, it causes some of the most debilitating symptoms of psychiatric diseases: intrusive memories, images, hallucinations, ruminations, and pathological and persistent worries. These are all key symptoms of mental illnesses such as PTSD, schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety."
The researchers found that even within his sample of healthy young adults, people with less hippocampal GABA (less effective 'foot-soldiers') were less able to suppress hippocampal activity by the prefrontal cortexand as a result much worse at inhibiting unwanted thoughts.
The discovery may answer one of the long-standing questions about schizophrenia. Research has shown that people affected by schizophrenia have 'hyperactive' hippocampi, which correlates with intrusive symptoms such as hallucinations. Post-mortem studies have revealed that the inhibitory neurons (which use GABA) in the hippocampi of these individuals are compromised, possibly making it harder for the prefrontal cortex to regulate activity in this structure. This suggests that the hippocampus is failing to inhibit errant thoughts and memories, which may be manifest as hallucinations.
via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2lUcXzO