Brain Imaging Study Shows How Mind Adjusts in Threatening and Safe Circumstances

Researchers at New York University and Princeton University have mapped out how the brain responds to situations that once generated fear, but are subsequently seen as safe or non-threatening. The research, which appears in the Journal of Neuroscience, may enhance our understanding of how to treat clinical fear disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Previously, scientists have explored the processes by which we eliminate fears-i.e., fear extinction. In this case, the brain responds to dangerous or threatening circumstances, then alters this processing when identical situations, experienced later, are seen as safe. However, in everyday life, fear is usually not eliminated but is rather targeted somewhere else -a process called fear reversal. Fear reversal is regarded as a more demanding neurological process than is fear extinction because the brain is telling itself to not be afraid of something it formerly viewed as threatening, but at the same time to be afraid of something it formerly viewed as safe-think Linda Hamilton’s reaction to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cyborg, whic 500

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