Summary of the article “Neuroscience maps new ways to treat human fear and anxiety”
by daphnecloutier on October 30, 2017 - 6:29pm
I read an article called Neuroscience maps new ways to treat human fear and anxiety written by Anne Q. Hoy on October 24th 2016. This article was about the paper published in September by Joseph LeDoux, professor of science and director of two institutes at New York University, and Dr. Daniel Pine, chief of the National Institute of Mental Health Intramural Research Program. In short, they say that fear and anxiety occur in two different sets of neutral circuits that react differently to threats instead of occurring in a single “fear center”. The first set controls conscious feelings, like fear and anxiety, and the other controls unconscious physical and physiological responses, such as freezing in place, sweating or increased heart rate. The two scientists confirmed their discovery by pointing out a study made in 2013 in Nature about a woman who suffers from an unusual condition that damaged the part of her brain considered as the “fear center”, the amygdala, but was still able to feel fear. Dr. Pine says that progress in brain research will help psychiatrists better understand what causes fear and anxiety disorders and hopefully find new treatments. He recommends cognitive behavioral therapy and says that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) medicines are way more effective than other medicines.
As far as I am concerned, I’ve always been impressed by the human brain and the way it works. I think this new way of seeing how fear and anxiety affect the brain will make a difference in research for treatments. By considering that two different sets of neutral circuits have a role to play in how a person handle fear and anxiety, neuroscientists and psychiatrists can now focus their research on a specific part of the brain and try to reduce the symptoms of the conscious, the unconscious or both parts of the brain.
I found this article fascinating and very well written. The information given was really clear. However, I would have loved to know more about how the two scientists came with their theory and how they managed to prove it. I also found the case of the woman with the rare disease interesting, but not enough information was given about that either.