We can often feel downhearted but do you feel so down that you don’t know what to do? British researchers have made a surprising discovery about an active molecule in our brain, called GABA. People who have a large amount of this molecule in their brain can manage to block negative thoughts more easily.
It goes without saying that have the ability to free yourself of unwanted negative thought is good for your mental health. However this could become complicated in certain situations like intrusive memories or trauma. Certain psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or even post-traumatic stress should be mentioned, as encouraging negative thoughts to propagate that can become a real torture.
The inability of getting rid of negative thoughts is scientifically explained by a lack of control of the prefrontal cortex but could also be related to hippocampus hyperactivity. This is the area of the brain responsible for memory and spatial navigation. The question is, why are some people unable block these unwanted thoughts more so than other?
Researchers from the University of Cambridge conducted a study to answer this question. The results of this study were published in Nature Communications on November 3, 2017. Tests were conducted on healthy young adults who were asked to try to block their negative thoughts.
One experiment example, was to remember pairs of words. However volunteers had to remember words on a green background rather than on a red background. The scientists then observed the volunteers brain activity using an MRI as well as NMR spectroscopy. The spectroscopy showed that individuals with more GABA in the hippocampus were better at getting rid of unwanted thoughts.
According to Echosciences Grenoble, “GABA is a small molecule very abundant in our brain that plays a chemical messenger (or neurotransmitter) role between two neurons. It is THE reference inhibitory neurotransmitter. ”
The researchers’ results indicate that hippocampal neurons releasing GABA control harmful thoughts while the hyperactivity of this area of the brain could come from a dysfunction of these same neurons. These neurons are GABAergic interneurons in connection with hundreds of other neurons and these are involved in the learning and assimilation of information.
Ultimately, and subject to further research, this discovery may help to better understand certain disorders such as post-traumatic stress and schizophrenia, which could help find better treatments.