Scientists Think Injection Could 'Cure' Fear

Maybe some lidocaine in the cerebellum can erase phobias
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2010 10:35 AM CDT
Scientists may someday be able to turn off your fears with one shot. Unless you're afraid of needles. Then you're on your own.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A team of Japanese researchers say they’ve found evidence that a simple injection could turn off the brain’s ability to become afraid, or even reprogram it to eliminate certain phobias. The scientists say that since fear is a learned reaction, they should be able to find the part of the brain responsible and shut it off. To test the theory, they tried a simple procedure on goldfish, which have similar brains to mammals.

First, the fish were taught to fear bright lights using electrical shocks. Then, researchers injected lidocaine into their cerebellums. When they flashed the lights again, the fishes' heart rates remained constant, showing no signs of fear. The lead researcher tells the Telegraph he’s excited about the implications for humans. “Imagine if your fear of spiders, heights, or flying could be cured with a simple injection,” he says. “Our research suggests that one day this could be a reality.”

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