Saturday, January 09, 2010

Preventing the return of fear

Preventing the return of fear in humans using reconsolidation update mechanisms
Recent research on changing fears has examined targeting reconsolidation. During reconsolidation, stored information is rendered labile after being retrieved. Pharmacological manipulations at this stage result in an inability to retrieve the memories at later times, suggesting that they are erased or persistently inhibited. Unfortunately, the use of these pharmacological manipulations in humans can be problematic. Here we introduce a non-invasive technique to target the reconsolidation of fear memories in humans. We provide evidence that old fear memories can be updated with non-fearful information provided during the reconsolidation window. As a consequence, fear responses are no longer expressed, an effect that lasted at least a year and was selective only to reactivated memories without affecting others. These findings demonstrate the adaptive role of reconsolidation as a window of opportunity to rewrite emotional memories, and suggest a non-invasive technique that can be used safely in humans to prevent the return of fear.

Experimental Simulation of Zitterbewegung

Quantum physics: Trapped ion set to quiver
The peculiar ultra-fast trembling motion of a free electron — the Zitterbewegung predicted by Erwin Schrödinger in 1930 when he scrutinized the Dirac equation — has been simulated using a single trapped ion.

Microbe Immune Systems

CRISPR/Cas, the Immune System of Bacteria and Archaea
Microbes rely on diverse defense mechanisms that allow them to withstand viral predation and exposure to invading nucleic acid. In many Bacteria and most Archaea, clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) form peculiar genetic loci, which provide acquired immunity against viruses and plasmids by targeting nucleic acid in a sequence-specific manner. These hypervariable loci take up genetic material from invasive elements and build up inheritable DNA-encoded immunity over time. Conversely, viruses have devised mutational escape strategies that allow them to circumvent the CRISPR/Cas system, albeit at a cost. CRISPR features may be exploited for typing purposes, epidemiological studies, host-virus ecological surveys, building specific immunity against undesirable genetic elements, and enhancing viral resistance in domesticated microbes.