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How fear burns memories into our brain


Narrator:       This is Science Today. New insight into how fear burns memories into our brain has implications for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. A team of neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, discovered that in fearful situations, the amygdala, which is called the brain's emotional center, triggers the hippocampus, the part of the brain linked to memory, to generate new neurons. Liz Kirby is a graduate student researcher who worked on the study.

Kirby:            For me, I think the most exciting part was finding out that these new neurons respond to fear memories because we were not just looking at a number of new cells and hoping they do something. We're actually seeing them show changes in gene expression and response to a memory in a response to an environment that we can manipulate. And so it was very exciting to see these new cells sort of in action so to speak, that they can actually respond and participate and be a part of the greater memory circuits.

Narrator:       The team now plans to see whether other negative stimuli, such as stress and anxiety, also lead to the amygdala triggering neurogenesis in the hippocampus. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.