BRAIN SWITCHFear-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. 

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) report that 19 million American adults, or 8.7 percent of the population, have specific phobias, or strong irrational fear reactions.

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. 

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