Research Reveals How Positive Or Negative Memories Are Made

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Science News

Researchers at the Salk Institute discovered the brain chemical that associates positive or negative emotions with a memory. The study is published in the journal Nature.

The Study

The new study is a follow-up study to a previous one that determined how a group of neurons in the brain’s basolateral amygdala (BLA) helps assign positive or negative feelings to memories made during learning.

In the new study, the researchers used CRISPR gene editing approaches to explore the mechanisms behind the signaling molecule called neurotensin in these BLA neurons. They selectively removed the gene for neurotensin from the cells and studied in-depth its specific neurotransmitter functions.

The Findings

The results revealed interesting insights into the brain’s ability to link feelings with memory or “valence assignment”. It is found that the brain’s default state is to have a fear bias or retain negative emotions.

However, as the brain reads the stimulus and molecular neurotensin is released, positive emotions are induced—making a memory positive.

The researchers are enthusiastic that the findings can be used in rewarding learning and treating people with anxiety disorders or post-traumatic stress disorders.

One of the lead researchers, Hao Li, elaborated: “We can actually manipulate this switch to turn on positive or negative learning. Ultimately, we’d like to try to identify novel therapeutic targets for this pathway.

To Know More You May Refer To

Li, H., Namburi, P., Olson, J. M., Borio, M., Lemieux, M. E., Beyeler, A., Calhoon, G. G., Hitora-Imamura, N., Coley, A. A., Libster, A., Bal, A., Jin, X., Wang, H., Jia, C., Choudhury, S. R., Shi, X., Felix-Ortiz, A. C., de la Fuente, V., Barth, V. P., King, H. O., … Tye, K. M. (2022). Neurotensin orchestrates valence assignment in the amygdala. Nature608(7923), 586–592. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-022-04964-y

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