CAT scans. Recent combat veterans who are diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder have significantly smaller volume in an area of the brain critical for regulating fear and anxiety responses. (Credit: © svedoliver / Fotolia)
Recent combat veterans who are diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder have significantly smaller volume in an area of the brain critical for regulating fear and anxiety responses, according to research led by scientists at Duke University and the Durham VA Medical Center.
The finding, published Nov. 5, 2012, in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry, for the first time provides clear evidence that smaller amygdala volume is associated with PTSD, regardless of the severity of trauma. But it’s not clear whether the physiological difference was caused by a traumatic event, or whether PTSD develops more readily in people who naturally have smaller amygdalas.
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The human brain can recognize thousands of different objects, but neuroscientists have long grappled with how the brain perceives and identifies different objects. Now researchers have discovered that the brain organizes objects based on their physical size, with a specific region of the brain reserved for recognizing large objects and another reserved for small objects.
New research suggests that it is possible to suppress emotional autobiographical memories. The study published this month by psychologists at the University of St Andrews reveals that individuals can be trained to forget particular details associated with emotional memories. The important findings may offer exciting new potential for therapeutic interventions for individuals suffering from emotional disorders, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Neuropsychiatric conditions such as autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy involve an imbalance between two types of synapses in the brain: excitatory synapses that release the neurotransmitter glutamate, and inhibitory synapses that release the neurotransmitter GABA. Little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying development of inhibitory synapses, but a research team from Japan and Canada has reported that a molecular signal between adjacent neurons is required for the development of inhibitory synapses.
A new study by University of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University scientists is using brain recordings to infer the way people organize associations between words in their memories.
University of Georgia researchers have developed a map of the human brain that shows great promise as a new guide to the inner workings of the body’s most complex and critical organ.
Brains that maintain healthy nerve connections as we age help keep us sharp in later life, new research funded by the charity Age UK has found.
The brain reward systems of women with anorexia may work differently from those of women who are obese, a new study suggests.
Emotional stress caused by last year’s tsunami caused a part of some survivors’ brains to shrink, according to scientists in Japan who grasped a unique chance to study the neurological effects of trauma. On a quest to better understand post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the researchers compared brain scans they had taken of 42 healthy adolescents in other studies in the two years before the killer wave, with new images taken three to four months thereafter. Among those with PTSD symptoms, they found a shrinking in the orbitofrontal cortex, a part of the brain involved in decision-making and the regulation of emotion, said a study published in the Nature journal Molecular Psychiatry.
All in the mind: Repressing bad memories for long enough can lead to us forgetting them completely, researchers claim
Fear burns memories into our brain, according to new research by University of California, Berkeley and if those memories are causing you distress, a team of researchers from Lund University in Sweden may have the answer. People can train their minds to erase embarrassing moments from their mind, according to their research. Scientists used EEG scans to monitor the parts of the brain that became active when volunteers actively tried to forget something. They were also able to pinpoint the exact moment a memory is ‘forgotten’, and claim that long-term suppression of a memory is a sure-fire way of permanently erasing it. The researchers say that mastering the technique could be useful for people who suffer from depression or post traumatic stress disorder, where constantly dwelling on upsetting or traumatic memories has a devastating effect on mental health.
And on the subject of PTSD, researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, are looking into the link between post-traumatic stress disorder and shrinkage of the hippocampus structure in the brain. (The hippocampus, which is Greek for “seahorse,” is a paired structure tucked inside each temporal lobe and shaped like a pair of seahorses, thence its name).
When we find something funny, our brains as well as our faces “light up” and the funnier we find a joke, the more activity is seen in “reward centres” – specific neurons which create feelings of pleasure, recent research shows.
Another region of the brain which also ‘lights up’ is in the medial orbito-frontal cortex when we experience beauty in a piece of art or a musical excerpt, according to new research funded by the Wellcome Trust. The study, published July 6 in the open access journal PLoS One, suggests that the one characteristic that all works of art, whatever their nature, have in common is that they lead to activity in that same region of the brain, and goes some way to supporting the belief that beauty does indeed lie in the beholder.