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Memory formation research offers insight into emotional disorders

 

Narrator:       This is Science Today. A University of California, Berkeley study about memory formation could lend insight into how emotional disorders develop. Graduate student researcher Aaron Friedman explains that highly emotional experiences induce the brain's hippocampus to create new neurons on which the fearful memory is imprinted. But sometimes this process goes awry, attaching an overwhelming emotional response to certain memories.

Friedman:      There are a lot of disorders that are characterized by having extremely strong emotional aspects to them. For example, with post-traumatic stress disorder, you can think of it as somebody having had this terrifying or traumatic experience and then the emotional aspect of that memory is so strong that when they think of it again, that emotional response affects them as strongly as when they were experiencing the original fearful event itself. So what we really want to do is understand the mechanisms that allow that to happen. And we're trying to understand those basic mechanisms, ultimately to be able to hopefully treat them in a more clinical sense.

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