Why the Memory Fear is Seared into Our Brains

A terrifying experience is certainly something you will never forget. But why does it remain in your mind while other events become progressively harder to recollect as time passes?

Tulane University School of Science and Engineering and Tufts University School of Medicine neuroscientists believe they have identified a mechanism for the creation of fear memories in the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain.

Researchers discovered that the stress neurotransmitter norepinephrine, commonly known as noradrenaline, promotes fear processing in the brain by triggering a population of inhibitory neurons in the amygdala to generate a recurrent bursting pattern of electrical discharges. This pattern of bursting electrical activity alters the frequency of brain wave oscillations in the amygdala from a state of rest to a state of arousal, which promotes the creation of fear memories.

Published recently in Nature Communications, the research was led by Tulane cell and molecular biology professor Jeffrey Tasker, the Catherine and Hunter Pierson Chair in Neuroscience, and his PhD student Xin Fu.

Tasker used the example of an armed robbery. "If you are held up at gunpoint, your brain secretes a bunch of the stress neurotransmitter norepinephrine, akin to an adrenaline rush," he said.

"This changes the electrical discharge pattern in specific circuits in your emotional brain, centered in the amygdala, which in turn transitions the brain to a state of heightened arousal that facilitates memory formation, fear memory, since it's scary. This is the same process, we think, that goes awry in PTSD and makes it so you cannot forget traumatic experiences."

This research was led by Tasker's lab and was conducted in collaboration with the Jonathan Fadok lab of Tulane and the Jamie Maguire lab of Tufts. Fadok is an assistant professor of psychology who holds the Burk-Kleinpeter Inc. Professorship in Science and Engineering at Tulane. Maguire is an associate professor of neuroscience at the Tufts School of Medicine.
 

Story Source:

Materials provided by Tulane University. Original written by Barri Bronston. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Xin Fu, Eric Teboul, Grant L. Weiss, Pantelis Antonoudiou, Chandrashekhar D. Borkar, Jonathan P. Fadok, Jamie Maguire, Jeffrey G. Tasker. Gq neuromodulation of BLA parvalbumin interneurons induces burst firing and mediates fear-associated network and behavioral state transition in mice. Nature Communications, 2022; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-28928-y

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Tulane University. "Study examines why the memory of fear is seared into our brains." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 June 2022. .

Published recently in Nature Communications, the research was led by Tulane cell and molecular biology professor Jeffrey Tasker, the Catherine and Hunter Pierson Chair in Neuroscience, and his PhD student Xin Fu.

Tasker used the example of an armed robbery. "If you are held up at gunpoint, your brain secretes a bunch of the stress neurotransmitter norepinephrine, akin to an adrenaline rush," he said.

"This changes the electrical discharge pattern in specific circuits in your emotional brain, centered in the amygdala, which in turn transitions the brain to a state of heightened arousal that facilitates memory formation, fear memory, since it's scary. This is the same process, we think, that goes awry in PTSD and makes it so you cannot forget traumatic experiences."

This research was led by Tasker's lab and was conducted in collaboration with the Jonathan Fadok lab of Tulane and the Jamie Maguire lab of Tufts. Fadok is an assistant professor of psychology who holds the Burk-Kleinpeter Inc. Professorship in Science and Engineering at Tulane. Maguire is an associate professor of neuroscience at the Tufts School of Medicine.

Wnctimes by Marjorie Farrington
 

Story Source:

Materials provided by Tulane University. Original written by Barri Bronston. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Xin Fu, Eric Teboul, Grant L. Weiss, Pantelis Antonoudiou, Chandrashekhar D. Borkar, Jonathan P. Fadok, Jamie Maguire, Jeffrey G. Tasker. Gq neuromodulation of BLA parvalbumin interneurons induces burst firing and mediates fear-associated network and behavioral state transition in mice. Nature Communications, 2022; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-28928-y

Cite This Page:

MLA
APA
Chicago
Tulane University. "Study examines why the memory of fear is seared into our brains." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 June 2022.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220601133030.htm

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