Scientists have found where scary memories 'live' in our brains
All of us encounter scary events at some point in our lives. Some events affect us deeply and we are unable to do anything that reminds us of the traumatic event.
Effects of excessive fear on our mind were known but it wasn't conclusively known where exactly these scary memories 'hide' in our brain.
A new study carried out by researchers at University of California, Riverside has thrown light on where do these especially fearsome memories physically get stored in our brains.
In their study, the researchers used mice that were engineered for nerve cells that could be easily identified in case of a fear response. They also used viruses that were able to sever specific nervous connections. These connections were important for memory consolidation.
An electric shock was used as a fearful event for the mice. It was found that when the mice returned to the same spot after one month, they froze, indicating that they were remembering the traumatic event (electric shock). Analysis of their brains showed strengthening connections in the area of the brain known as Prefrontal Cortex (PFC). Human brain has PFC as well. This area is involved in decision making and cognitive behaviour.
When the researchers severed the nervous connection to the PFC, it was found that the mice were no longer able to recall distant traumatic event but were able to form new connections in the PFC, where memories of fearful events were being stored.