Scientists on track to erase your worst fears

Washington: Scientists are on track to block your worst fears after identifying the most prominent neurotransmitter in the brain that plays a key role in the process of “unlearning.”

It could eventually help develop therapies to treat a variety of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including phobias and anxiety.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.

According to researchers at California’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies, a receptor for glutamate, the most prominent neurotransmitter in the brain, plays a crucial role in the process of “unlearning”.

“Most people agree that failure to ‘unlearn’ is a hallmark of post-traumatic stress disorders and if we had a drug that affects this gene it could help soldiers returning from war to ‘unlearn’ their fear memories,” said Stephen F. Heinemann, a professor at Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, who led the study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

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