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Study: A Nucleus controls traumatic sounds and events

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A NYU Medical Center’s research has revealed that there is a link between sounds and memory formation and that such a link comes from the locus coeruleus in the brain.

The team at NYU Medical Center studied this particular neuron in rats. In a two-week period, the researchers chemically stimulated the rats’ locus coeruleus while giving the rats treats and playing a specific sound. After two weeks, the researchers played the sound again in the subsequent two weeks and found that the same parts of the rats’ brain (i.e. the auditory cortex and the locus coeruleus) would display activity, no matter how almost inaudible the sounds were when played.

It was also found that there was 100% neural activity in the auditory cortex when locus coeruleus had been chemically stimulated, even in the absence of the triggering sounds, in contrast to ten times less activity in the auditory cortex when the locus coeruleus had been chemically stifled.

The research team concluded that as the sounds were paired with a reward, the rats’ ability to perceive sound improved.

Then, the team experimented with pairing sounds with mild shocks and found that even when the shocks had stopped and only the sounds were playing, the locus coeruleus reacted in the same way, at 20 neuron spikes every second.

The primary investigator, neuroscientist Robert C. Froemke, PhD, who is also an assistant professor at NYU Langone believe that their research could potentially help to “alter or minimize memories involved in disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder”, as well as to “improve the hearing and memory abilities” in those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: Newswise, Inc.