Posts Tagged ‘phobia’

Bloomberg News (2/16, Waters) reported that, according to a study published in the Feb. 15 advance online issue of Nature Neuroscience, the “widely used heart drug” propranolol “may be able to stop frightening images or experiences from lodging in the memory and repeatedly resurfacing to cause fear and anxiety.” For the study, researchers from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands “gave the medication” to 60 “test subjects in a complex experiment that measured how people reacted when they were shown pictures of spiders they’d been taught to fear.” The team “first conditioned their test subjects to fear a particular kind of spider by showing them pictures of the spider, followed by an electrical shock to the wrist.” By the following day, “the experience had been consolidated and stored in their memory.”
        Participants were then “split into two groups — one was given the beta blocker propranolol and the other a dummy drug before both were shown the same pictures again,” BBC News (2/16) explained on its website. The investigators “assessed how fearful of the pictures the volunteers were by playing sudden noises and measuring how strongly they blinked, something called the ‘startle response.'” The team found that “the group that had taken beta blockers showed less fear than the group that had taken the placebo pill.”
        HealthDay (2/15, Perkel) added that “on the third day,” when the participants “were tested again,” the investigators found that the “physiological response to the fear-inducing cue — pictures of spiders — was eliminated in the propranolol group, but not in the placebo group.” The authors concluded that the study’s findings “are consistent with those of a recent preliminary study of patients with post-traumatic stress disorder in which post-retrieval propranolol seemed to reduce subsequent physiological responding to traumatic memory.” The Boston Globe (2/16) also covered the story.

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