Scientists find key to unwanted thoughts

From BBC - November 3, 2017

Have you ever wanted to stop ruminating on something and just been unable to?

Scientists could have the secret. They have identified a chemical in the brain's "memory" region that allows us to suppress unwanted thoughts.

The discovery may help explain why some people ca not shift persistent intrusive thoughts - a common symptom of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and schizophrenia.

Researchers say controlling our thoughts is "fundamental to wellbeing".

Associated words

Prof Michael Anderson, from the University of Cambridge, who conducted the study, said: "When this capacity breaks down, it causes some of the most debilitating symptoms of psychiatric diseases - intrusive memories, images, hallucinations, ruminations, and pathological and persistent worries."

Participants were asked to learn to associate a series of words with a paired, but otherwise unconnected, word - for example ordeal/roach and moss/north.

After this, they had to respond to either a red or green signal. If it was green, they were expected to recall the associated word but if it was red, they were asked to stop themselves from doing so.

Their brains were monitored using both functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), which detects changes in blood flow, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which measures chemical changes in the brain.

New approaches to treatment


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