A team of scientists from the University of Cambridge has identified a chemical within the region of the brain responsible for memory that allows us to suppress undesired thoughts. This helps explain why people with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and schizophrenia often have persistent intrusive thoughts when these circuits go wrong.
In their study, the researchers used a task known as the ‘Think/No-Think’ procedure to identify a significant new brain process enabling the prefrontal cortex to successfully inhibit our thoughts.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the scientists managed to observe what was happening within the key regions of the brain as the participants tried to inhibit their thoughts. The researchers were able to measure brain chemistry with the help of spectroscopy.
A new research suggests that better-quality sleep is associated with reduced activity in brain regions responsible for fear learning. This means that time spent in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep can indicate the susceptibility to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A team of researchers from Rutgers University in Newark, USA, asked the 17 participants, 12 male, and 5 female, to monitor their brain activity during sleep for about one week. The researchers found that those participants who spent more time in the REM phase of sleep also had dampened activity in the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex during fear learning.
The researchers conclude in their paper: “Ultimately, our results may suggest that baseline REM sleep could serve as a non-invasive biomarker for resilience, or susceptibility, to trauma.”
According to a new study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, playing a video game called Tetris right after a traumatic event, like a car crash, may lower the risk of developing intrusive flashbacks of the event.
Scientists discovered that people who survived a car crash and then played Tetris in the emergency room within 6 hours of their crashes had 62% fewer flashbacks within a week after the event if compared to people who executed another task in the emergency room.
The researchers hypothesized that playing Tetris would disrupt the formation of long-time about the traumatic event, as this game requires the high level of visual attention. The researchers believe that “Tetris” uses up some of the same resources in the brain needed to keep visual memories of traumatic events.
A new study from Stanford University School of Medicine suggests that stressful events affect the brains of boys and girls differently.
In their study, the researchers found that the insula, a part of the brain responsible for emotions and empathy, was particularly small in girls who suffered a stressful event. This can explain why girls are more likely to suffer from post-stress disorder (PTSD).
Researchers said that girls with PTSD may suffer from a faster ageing of one part of the insula.
Lead study author Dr Megan Klabunde says: “It was important to consider different and emotional reactions to stressful events. It is important that people who work with traumatised youth consider the sex differences.”
More information here.
A new study suggests that kids with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have structural differences in brains that typical children do not have.
In their study, the researchers compared MRI of brain structure in 24 children suffering from PTSD and 23 healthy children. All children experienced the Sichuan earthquake in south central China in 2008. Children had significant differences in the network of neural connections in the brain.
Dr. Qiyong Gong, a lead author of the study from West China Hospital of Sichuan University, says: “The PTSD group had changes suggestive of decreased local and global network efficiency due to damage or disconnection between linked regions.”
More information here.