Its possible to suppress a trained fear response in rats:
The researchers then electrically stimulated the infralimbic area in rats that had been fear conditioned but not extinguished — in effect simulating the safety signal, while pairing it with the tone. Remarkably, the rats showed little freezing. Later, the rats continued to be unafraid of the tone even without the stimulation, suggesting that memory for extinction was strengthened by experimentally mimicking the safety signal.
Since the prefrontal cortex is known to project to the amygdala, a hub of fear memory deep in the brain, the researchers propose that increased activity of infralimbic neurons in the prefrontal cortex strengthens memory of safety by inhibiting the amygdala's memory of fear. They speculate that stimulating parts of the prefrontal cortex in anxiety disorder patients, using an experimental technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation, might help them control fear.
Imagine some future battlefield where one of the combatant countries has implanted mini-electrodes in the brains of its soldiers. It could suppress all fear and make its soldiers fearless. They wouldn't panic when under fire.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2002 November 07 03:45 PM Biological Mind|