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D. A Doorway to a New Form of Learning

Narrator:This is Science Today. How do people ultimately get over their fears? That's a question UCLA researchers are interested in answering. Mark Barad, a professor of psychiatry and bio-behavioral sciences, is studying a process called extinction, which refers to learning to inhibit fear under circumstances where it's not appropriate.

Barad: We believe that by targeting this extinction system, we would get rid of these excessive fears and what's nice about it is we're not erasing the ability of that person to summon up an appropriate fear response to appropriate dangers - even if it's the same kind of danger because extinction - this process, is very context specific.

Narrator: Barad helped discover one of the specific molecules involved in the process of extinction.

Barad: This is an important finding and it's like having a doorway into a new form of learning. The other thing is that now the difference means that we can now look for drugs that affect this system in particular and use those to develop a way to make extinction go faster without messing up other forms of learning.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.