Fear-related anxiety disorders—such as phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder—affect millions of Americans. Although treatment options such as psychotherapy, medication, and alternative therapies are widely available, their success rates vary. A team of international neuroscientists may have found a way to “remove” specific fears from the brain.
Although some phobias develop in childhood, most phobias appear to emerge unexpectedly and without explanation in adolescence or early adulthood.
Using a combination of artificial intelligence and brain-scanning technology, a team comprising of researchers from Great Britain, Japan, and the U.S. may have discovered a way to unconsciously remove specific fear memories.
When they were able to identify the neurological pattern for representing fears, researchers tried to override the bad memory by giving their subjects a reward.
The team repeated the procedure for 3 days. They told the participants that the reward depended on their brain activity, but they did not tell them how.