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First Published Monday, 27 October 2008

memories ...

 

Release Date  Friday 24th October, 2008

Neuroscientists at The University of Queensland, Australia have discovered a new way to explain how emotional events can sometimes lead to disturbing long term memories.


In evolutionary terms, the brain’s ability to remember a fear or trauma response has been crucial to our long term survival. However, in the modern world, when a similar type of fear response is triggered by a traumatic event such as being in combat; being exposed to abuse or being involved a major car accident, we do not want to repeatedly re-experience the episode, in vivid detail, for the rest of our lives.

During studies of the almond-shaped part of the brain called the amygdala – a region associated with processing emotions – Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) scientists have uncovered a cellular mechanism underlying the formation of emotional memories, which occurs in the presence of a well known stress hormone.


Institute researchers Dr Louise Faber and colleagues have demonstrated how noradrenaline (norepinephrine), the brain’s equivalent of adrenaline, affects the amygdala by controlling chemical and electrical pathways in the brain responsible for memory formation.


This is a new way of understanding how neurons form long term memories in the amygdala,” Dr Faber said.


Our strongest and most vivid human memories are usually associated with strong emotional events such as those associated with extreme fear, love and rage.


For many of us, our deepest memories are mental snapshots taken during times of high emotional impact or involvement,” she said.


Some aspects of memory formation are incredibly robust – and the mechanism we’ve discovered opens another door in terms of understanding how these memories are formed.


Dr Faber said her team’s discovery could help other scientists to elucidate new targets, leading to better treatments for conditions such as anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Faber ESL, Delaney AJ, Power JM, et al. Modulation of SK Channel Trafficking by Beta Adrenoceptors Enhances Excitatory Synaptic Transmission and Plasticity in the Amygdala. J. Neurosci. 2008 Oct;28:10803-10813   [Abstract]

Putty Beach, Australia

[Australia] Mental Illness Rife, Anxiety Disorders

Most Prevalent


Friday, 24th October, 2008



One in five Australians aged 16-85 years had a mental disorder in 2007, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

 

Anxiety disorders – such as panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder – were the most common, affecting 14 per cent of people. Affective disorders – such as depression – affected 6 per cent, while substance use disorders affected 5 per cent.

The most commonly experienced anxiety disorders were post-traumatic stress disorder (6 per cent) and social phobia (5 per cent). Depression was the most common affective disorder (4 per cent), and the harmful use of alcohol the most common substance use disorder (3 per cent).

Women were more likely to experience mental disorders (22 per cent) than men (18 per cent), with a higher rate of anxiety disorders (18 per cent compared to 11 per cent for men) and affective disorders (7 per cent and 5 per cent). However, men had more than twice the rate of substance use disorders (7 per cent) compared to women (3 per cent).

Younger people were more likely to have a mental disorder than older people. Just over a quarter (26 per cent) of people aged 16-24 had a disorder compared to 6 per cent of people aged 75-85.

Substance use disorders were more common for younger people (13 per cent) than other age groups, while anxiety disorders were more common in people aged 35-44 (18 per cent).

Just over a third (34 per cent) of people living in one parent families had a mental disorder compared with 19 per cent of people in couple families with children.

Over half (54 per cent) the people who had ever been homeless had a disorder, nearly three times the rate of people who had not.

Mental disorders were also more common in unemployed people (29 per cent) and in people who had ever been incarcerated (41 per cent).

1.9 million people accessed services for mental health problems in the 12 months prior to the survey.

4326.0 – National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing

 

We are, perhaps, uniquely among the earth’s creatures, the worrying animal. We worry away our lives, fearing the future, discontent with the present, unable to take in the idea of dying, unable to sit still.

Lewis Thomas, (1913-1993)
American Physician and Writer

 



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