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C. A Distinct Molecular Key to Overcoming Fear

Narrator: This is Science Today. Neuroscientists at UCLA have discovered a distinct molecular process in the brain that's involved in overcoming fear. Dr. Mark Barad, who led the research, says they studied a model for the kind of psychotherapy famously used in animals by Pavlov, called extinction of conditional fear.

Barad: We're trying to understand what the molecular mechanisms of extinction are so that we can devise medications that will make extinction go faster and if we can do that, we believe that we'll be able to make psychotherapy go faster, because one of the problems with psychotherapy is that it takes a long time.

Narrator: The researchers discovered a molecular channel in brain cells that's required to overcome fear, but plays no part in becoming fearful or expressing fear. This may have a huge impact on treating anxiety disorders.

Barad: This would not reduce people's fear and it wouldn't impair their ability to learn new associations about dangerous things. Instead, you would be able to specifically get rid of a fear that you think was no longer adaptive, no longer appropriate.

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