Neuroscientists identify two neuron populations that encode happy or fearful memories

Our emotional state is governed partly by a tiny brain structure known as the amygdala, which is responsible for processing positive emotions such as happiness, and negative ones such as fear and anxiety. A new study from MIT finds that these emotions are controlled by two populations of neurons that are genetically programmed to encode memories of either fearful or pleasurable events. Furthermore, these sets of cells inhibit each other, suggesting that an imbalance between these populations may be responsible for disorders such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.“The positive memory cells identified by the genetic markers, which counter negative memory cells, promise an opportunity to identify effective molecular targets for treatment of emotional disorders such as depression and PTSD,” says Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience…


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