Why bad memories last so long
Scientists have theorized as to why painful memories can be hard to shake. Now, research by an international team of scientists confirms what scientists have long thought–that bad memories linger because neurons in the brain make stronger connections to each other during traumatic experiences.
Researchers at New York University and Japan’s RIKEN Brain Science Institute have found evidence supporting what’s known as the Hebbian plasticity hypothesis, which holds that during trauma more neurons in the brainn fire impulses in unison and that causes them to make better connections than under normal situations.This hypothesis also suggests when the amygdala–the region of the brain that plays a key role in processing emotions-- allows sensory stimuli to become associated with either rewarding or aversive outcomes, emotional memories are produced.
To test how this brain functioning worked, the researchers conditioned rats to associate an auditory tone with a mild shock to their feet, while tracking the path of electrical impulses in the rats’ amygdalas. When researchers weakened or blocked the signaling among neurons, the memory that linked the sound to the shock didn’t form. That was in line with the Hebbian plasticity hypothesis.
“Our results not only show that we are able to artificially manipulate memory, but also that the manipulation is correlated with long-lasting changes in the brain,” said Lorenzo Diaz-Mataix, the lead author of the study.
These findings open a new door of memory modification as a potential treatment for PTSD or for other patients suffering from painful memories.
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Sourced from: Live Science, Why Painful Memories Linger
Published On: Dec 10, 2014
Nearly half of Americans think flu vaccine can make you sick
Doctors and public health officials who want people to get flu shots apparently need to do a better job of allaying the public’s fears. According to a survey, about 40 percent of adults in the U.S. still believe that you can contract the flu from getting vaccinated.
In 2012, 1,000 American adults were asked in an online survey how concerned they were about side effects from the flu vaccine. More than a quarter of those surveyed said they were extremely or very concerned. Then, those participants were randomly divided into three groups – one group received information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website on the safety of the flu vaccines, the second group simply received information on the dangers of the flu, and the third group received no information. Then the participants answered questions on the safety of the vaccine, the possibility of getting the flu from the vaccine, and their intent on getting the flu shot.
Even after many participants received information about the safety of the vaccine, nearly 40 percent of them thought the vaccine giving an individual the flu and 4 percent believed the vaccine to be not at all safe. Although the people who were given the CDC information on the safety of the flu vaccine were less likely to report that it could give you the flu, the overall group of 1,000 had many misconceptions and skepticism regarding the flu vaccine. Researchers actually found that describing the safety of the vaccine to people who were most concerned about side effects proved least effective and decreased their likelihood of getting the shot.
These findings have showed the need for health officials to reframe messaging to encourage people to get the flu shot. The flu kills up to 30,000 Americans each year, with the elderly, children, and those with compromised immune systems most at risk.
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Sourced from: Reuters, Nearly half of Americans think flu shot can make you sick
Published On: Dec 10, 2014