How Your Brain Fights Off Fears

How Your Brain Fights Off Fears

Your neurons hold the tools to keeping you sane and healthy, in both mind and spirit.

The world seems to be a crazy place. Many of us will go onto live safe, comfortable, unobstructed lives, but if you follow the news, the random nature of violence and disruption globally can invoke fear, at least on some level.

How do you guarantee that you’ll be safe, even in places that are meant for leisure, education, worship and peace? You can’t.

Just don’t think about it, some say. Sometimes this is possible, but if your worries get the best of you, take solace in the knowledge that your own brain-the very source of your personal worry- can actually calm you down.

According to a study done at the University of Texas at Austin, your brain works hard to put your fears to rest. This lets you get on with what really matters: living life.

Neuroscientists have discovered a group of neurons that allow both fearful memories to surface unexpectedly, and stops them from popping up. Their called “extinction neurons”.

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When they’re activated, your fears stay away. When they aren’t, bad memories can come back.

The findings are a breakthrough. Up until now, scientists weren’t sure what happens when people who suffer from anxiety and fears formed by past events, experience a relapse. Something called exposure therapy can help you create new, safe memories, but these don’t always hold. Researchers haven’t known exactly what happens in the brain.

Now that extinction neurons have been found, new therapies can be deployed. Researchers are hoping this offers new hope for people suffering from things like anxiety, phobias and post-traumatic-stress disorder (PTSD).

So, it’s great news: your mind can both haunt and heal you. It’s all about how it works.

For more on PTSD and treating fear, click here.

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