New Brain Pathway to Fear Discovered

April 04, 2022

The Human Sensory Cortex Stores Memories of Past Frightening Experiences 


Researchers from Florida State University have made a groundbreaking discovery involving fear pathways in the human brain. For years, scientists considered the amygdala to be the epicenter of fear processing in the brain. The almond-shaped brain structure was believed to be largely responsible for how individuals react to frightening situations or perceived threats. However, the amygdala-centered fear theory often fell short when attempting to explain the etiology of various psychiatric illnesses related to the stress-inducing emotion. Now, the amygdala hypothesis is being called into question, as a team of neuroscientists have identified an alternative tract in the brain routed through the sensory cortex which appears to be linked to fear. The sensory cortex is the area of the brain where information from one’s environment is initially interpreted and where fear could originate. This new research may potentially shift the way scientists understand fear and how fear disorders emerge and also persist. Lead author Wen Li was thrilled with the study’s conclusion, and stated, This work fills a critical gap in the literature by revealing a new pathway to fear and fear memory. The findings can lead to a critical paradigm shift in how we conceive and end up treating fear disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.” Co-author Yugi You also shows enthusiasm for the research and added, “This research reveals mechanistic insight into how threat memory forms and is stored in our sensory cortex. Knowing that this sensory-based threat memory is hyperactive in anxiety takes us a step closer to helping people with anxiety disorders change their maladaptive threat perception and memory.” 


Original Article 

Original Study 

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