The discovery of a brain mechanism explains why people have strong, long-lasting memories of stressful events in their lives and could help sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The research found stress hormones directly stimulate biochemical processes in neurons that play a role in learning and memory. The way these hormones stimulate these signalling and epigenetic processes in neurons is completely new and has never been shown before.
In the healthy brain these processes operate smoothly and help people to cope with and learn from stressful events in their lives. In vulnerable or strongly traumatized people, these processes may be disturbed and stressful events may result in the formation of highly traumatic memories such as those seen in patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The discovery may lead to new ways to develop drugs to help these patients and to prevent PTSD in trauma victims.Read more at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences