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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

More Difficult for Teens to Block Out, Overcome Fear

By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on September 28, 2012

Turns out, the inability to block out fear during adolescence may be an innate trait.

In a new study, Weill Cornell Medical College researchers determined that once a teenager’s brain is triggered by a threat, the ability to suppress an emotional response to the threat is diminished.

This finding may explain the peak inanxiety and stress-related disorders during this developmental period.

The study, published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to decode fear acquisition and fear “extinction learning,” down to the synaptic level.

Researchers studied the brains of mice, which mirror human neuronal networks in addition to performing human experiments.

A key finding is that while acquired fear can be difficult to extinguish in some adolescents, adults and children do not have the same trouble learning when a threat is no longer present. (...)

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