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Home > Research Articles > Bad Memories Block Out New Memories

HealthScout

Monday, April 14, 2003

MONDAY, April 14 (HealthScoutNews) -- Fear-provoking memories cause rats to forget newly learned information.

So says a study by researchers at the University of South Florida and James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital.

The animal model developed in this study may offer information that could help scientists develop better drug treatments for people with anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome (PSTD).

The study found that when young adult rats have a fear-provoking experience, they remember it for at least six months. That's a quarter of their normal lifespan.

The researchers also found that when the rats later in life were reminded of their fear-provoking experience, they showed behaviors similar to those in people with PTSD.

For example, the rats avoided cues associated with the original fear-provoking experience and their long-term emotional memories interfered with their capacity to remember newly learned information.

The study was presented April 13 at the Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego.

The researchers plan to use the animal model to continue to study how the hippocampus and other areas of the brain involved in emotional trauma are affected by intrusive memories. They also plan to test new kinds of drugs that may prevent intrusive memories from affecting behavior later in life.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about post-traumatic stress disorder.

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