Monday, September 16, 2013

A pinch of l-dopa enhances learning to suppress excessive fear responses.

Haaker et al. make an interesting observation:
Traumatic events can engender persistent excessive fear responses to trauma reminders that may return even after successful treatment. In the psychotherapy of fear or anxiety disorders, patients make safety experiences that generate fear-inhibitory safety memories. Fear, however, frequently returns because safety memory retrieval fails. We find that safety memories can be strengthened and are more easily retrieved when adding a standard anti-Parkinson drug that augments brain levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine directly after a safety experience. In mice and humans, this treatment up-regulates an anti-fear area in the frontal cortex. Our findings open a unique avenue for improving psychotherapy.

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