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This brain chemical that can evade unwanted thoughts was just identified by scientists

first_imgScientists have identified a key chemical in the brain that allows us to suppress unpleasant memories, a finding that may pave the way for treating patients of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression or schizophrenia who experience persistent intrusive thoughts.A region at the front of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex is known to play a key role in controlling our actions and has more recently been shown to play a similarly important role in stopping our thoughts. The prefrontal cortex acts as a master regulator, controlling other brain regions — the motor cortex for actions and the hippocampus for memories.How did they do it?In the study funded by Medical Research Council UK and published in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists led by Dr Taylor Schmitz and Professor Anderson used a task known as the Think/No-Think procedure to identify a significant new brain process that enables the prefrontal cortex to successfully inhibit our thoughts.In the task, participants learn to associate a series of words with a paired, but otherwise unconnected, word, for example ordeal/roach and moss/northIn the next stage, they were asked to recall the associated word if the cue is green or to suppress it if the cue is red; in other words, when shown ordeal in red, they were asked to stare at the word but to stop themselves thinking about the associated thought roachUsing a combination of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the researchers were able to observe what was happening within key regions of the brain as the participants tried to inhibit their thoughtsFindings of the studyResearchers found out that ability to inhibit unwanted thoughts relies on a neurotransmitter — a chemical within the brain that allows messages to pass between nerve cells — known as GABAResearchers discovered that GABA concentrations within the hippocampus — a key area of the brain involved in memory — predict people’s ability to block the retrieval process and prevent thoughts and memories from returningThe researchers found that even within his sample of healthy young adults, people with less hippocampal GABA were less able to suppress hippocampal activity by the prefrontal cortex-and as a result much worse at inhibiting unwanted thoughtsResearch has shown that people affected by schizophrenia have ‘hyperactive’ hippocampi, which correlates with intrusive symptoms such as hallucinations.Interested in General Knowledge and Current Affairs? Click here to stay informed and know what is happening around the world with our G.K. and Current Affairs section.advertisementTo get more updates on Current Affairs, send in your query by mail to education.intoday@gmail.comlast_img

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