It becomes increasingly harder to recall things that have not frightened or shocked us as time passes, whereas frightening occurrences stick in our minds much more easily. As we begin to question why do we remember bad things better, a new study might have the answer.
According to experts from Tulane University School of Science and Engineering and Tufts University School of Medicine, there is a logical rationale for why our brain recalls negative things better than joyful occurrences.
The findings were published in Nature Communications.
Fear perception in the brain seems to be controlled by the stress neurotransmitter norepinephrine, also known as noradrenaline. It causes a recurrent bursting pattern of electrical discharges by stimulating a specific population of inhibitory neurons in the amygdala. They then stimulate the creation of fear memories by increasing the frequency of brain wave oscillation in the amygdala.
“If you are held up at gunpoint, your brain secretes a bunch of the stress neurotransmitter norepinephrine, akin to an adrenaline rush,” said Jeffrey Tasker, a molecular biology professor and the study’s lead author. “This changes the electrical discharge pattern in specific circuits in your emotional brain, centered in the amygdala, which in turn transitions the brain to a state of heightened arousal that facilitates memory formation, fear memory, since it’s scary.”
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The researchers believe that PTSD is caused by a similar process that makes it tough to forget terrible events.
Read the study below: