The formation of fear memory in a brain is explained, by researchers from the University of California, Riverside. They have used a mouse model to show how a traumatic event is linked to a particular situation, results, in the formation of ‘fear memory’. There are two parts in the brain: 1.Hippocampus 2.Amygdala.
The purpose of the first one is to respond to a particular context and encode it. And, the second one triggers defensive behavior that involves fear responses.
The study showed in Nature communications has theory drawn that fear memory formation is because of the strengthened connections between the hippocampus and the amygdala. However, the experimental basis of the same is not yet concrete. The study author is Jun-Hyeong Cho, an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology. He states that the connections between these two if weakened will reduce the fear-memory. Their patients of post-traumatic stress disorder suffer from maladaptive fear memories and those memories can be suppressed by developing therapeutic strategies. Around 7% of the US population is prey to PTSD. Many factors leading to this disease involve wars, assault, or disaster. People suffer from months to years in this disease.
The brain has a habit of interpreting future danger situations from its past traumatic events faced. The process is in PTSD patients occur even in small incidences as they suffer from nightmares or unwanted memories of the trauma. A neural mechanism of learned fear is important for the survival of animals who predict the danger from this mechanism.
Cho explained with a very simple example that if a particular person meets with an accident at a place, he/she will be afraid to go to that place again after the recovery. Associative memory plays a role in this. The victim senses a set of multisensory circumstances during the accident. All these factors make the brain to integrate the traumatic event in an abstract form that replays in mind.