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Apr 04, 2017 09:21 AM EDT

New Study Reveals ‘Fear Memories’ Alter The Mind

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If a space in your mind is generally peaceful, consider yourself lucky. However, if you havee xperienced trauma and seem to relive the experience over an extended period, then it might be time to seek professional help."Fear Memories" can be very traumatic.

American adults experience Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 7.8 percent of the population according to the National Center for PTSD. The disorder arises after experiencing a significantly traumatic event, such as, but not limited to, living through life-threatening accidents, a natural disaster, sexual assault, child abuse, a physical attack, being witness to violence or bloodshed or during combat, according to Futurism.

Memory and PTSD trigger

PTSD is often pictured as that of a returned soldier, usually male, struggling with emotional scars culled from the battlefield. However, women are twice as likely to experience PTSD as men. Researchers are determining how a traumatic episode alters the brain itself, in hopes to comprehend PTSD better and to find effective ways to treat it.

According to Bryce Vissel from University of Technology Sydney (UTS), one of the symptoms of PTSD is that sufferers re-experience the trauma, which can be triggered by any innocuous stimulus. In the case of returned soldiers, a loud bang might trigger a PTSD episode.

Vissel states that this might occur because the triggering memories were formed lacking enough details to allow the individual to recognize the traumatic situation from a completely harmless one.

Thankfully, not all survivors of a horrible trauma experience PTSD. Children under the age of 10 can develop the disorder but are less likely to than adults are. Survivors of traumatic events usually have difficulty in understanding the changes that occur; additionally they fail to connect what the changes mean.

The study

Using mice, the researchers shocked their feet to observe if the rapid violent stimulus for a full memory to form. Accordingly, the mice did form a memory based on the induced fear, but not the complete picture of what actually occurred.

The significance of the test is that animals rely on the memory of when, where, and how the traumatic event occurred to determine if they are to be fearful in the future.

Results of the study are published in the journal Learning and Memory, which suggest that symptoms of PTSD are caused by not only how memories are recalled, but also how these memories are made. Looking at how these specific memories are formed that lead to PTSD could lead to new forms of treatment for the condition.

However, lab results using mice are not usually the same in humans. A further study would have to be done on how this might be applied to humans. Check the video below for added information.

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