Of Rats and Humans: Erasing Fear

. Friday, September 4


This morning, the NPR ran with a story that states that rats and humans are so alike that they think they’ve found a cure for fear by studying rats. That’s nothing new, if you remember the dogs drooling at the sound of a bell that became the foundation for behavior modification techniques.

This time, however, scientists have deduced that certain brain cells in rats change with age and with it, the ability to overcome fear associated with past traumatic events.

Fear comes from the part of the brain called the amygdala, which will prompt a fight or flight response before the rest of the brain is even conscious of the fearful stimuli. At about 3 weeks old, baby rats’ brains developed a sheath around the brain cells located in the amygdala, which led the scientists to believe that it was this sheath that made it difficult to erase the fear response. They hope that their findings will lead to the development of drugs that will dissolve that sheath and then allow people with PTSD to forget the traumatic events that plague them.

In essence, dissolving the sheath will erase memories.


rebecca said...

I have some memories I would like to be rid of but I'll wait for "old-timers' to set in before I let some new drug do it. :-)