Researchers have found the chemical that blocks unwanted thoughts in the brain, the key to blocking bad memories.
Scientists today could have the secret to blocking unwanted thoughts after they have identified the neurotransmitter in brain that allows us to suppress memories.
The findings could hold the explanation to why some people can not let go of haunting thoughts, mainly those with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and schizophrenia.
At the study conducted at the University of Cambridge, participants were asked to associated other unrelated words – for example ordeal and roach, or moss and north.
Then they were asked to respond to a signal, either red or green. When it was red, they were expected to recall the associated world, and try to forget it (the associated word) at green.
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“When this capacity breaks down, it causes some of the most debilitating symptoms of psychiatric diseases – intrusive memories, images, hallucinations, ruminations, and pathological and persistent worries,” lead scientist Prof. Michael Anderson told BBC.
By using functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), which detects changes in blood flow, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which measures chemical changes in the brain, the researchers found the neurotransmitter known as Gaba responsible.
The chemical known as Gaba is the brain’s main “inhibitory” neurotransmitter, meaning it is released by one cell to suppress the activities of another (connected) one.
People who had more Gaba concentrations in their brain’s memory area (the hippocampus) were more able to block unwanted thoughts and bad memories.
“What’s exciting about this is that now we’re getting very specific,” Prof. Anderson said. “Before, we could only say ‘this part of the brain acts on that part’, but now we can say which neurotransmitters are likely to be important.”
This new breakthrough could possibly shed light on a number of mental health conditions linked to memories, such as PTSD, anxiety and depression – all of which inhibits people who suffer from them from stopping having unwanted thoughts.