Science and Technology
publicado em 12/08/2011 às 11h00:00
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Exposure to light plays a role in the modulation of fear and anxiety

Discovery may lead to the creation of drugs that mimic the light therapy to treat disorders such as anxiety and panic disorder

 
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Foto: Cole Geddy/University of Virginia
Foto: Cole Geddy/University of Virginia
Ignacio Provencio e Brian Wiltgen (da dir. para esq.), responsáveis pela pesquisa Brian Wiltgen e Ignacio Provencio (da dir. para esq.)
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Ignacio Provencio e Brian Wiltgen (da dir. para esq.), responsáveis pela pesquisa
Brian Wiltgen e Ignacio Provencio (da dir. para esq.)

Researchers at the University of Virginia, USA, found that light exposure may play a role in modulating fear and anxiety. Using mice as models, they learned that bright light increases the fear or anxiety in mice, which are nocturnal, in much the same way that darkness can intensify the fear or anxiety in humans daytime.

"We looked at the effect of light on learned fear, because the light is a feature of the global environment has profound effects on behavior and physiology. Light plays an important role in the modulation of heart rate, circadian rhythms, sleep cycles and waking, digestion, hormones, mood and other body processes. In our study, we wanted to see how it affects learned fear, "said psychologist Brian Wiltgen.

Fear is a natural mechanism for survival. Some fears seem to be innate, however, humans and other mammals also learn from their experiences. This "learned fear" protect from harm. Fear can become abnormally enhanced in some cases, sometimes leading to debilitating phobias.

"Studies show that light influences learning, memory and anxiety. We have now shown that light also can modulate conditioned fear responses. To understand how light regulates learned fear can improve therapies to treat diseases such as anxiety, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress, "said Wiltgen.

Using mice as a model the researchers showed that light itself does not necessarily increase the fear, but that the presence of light to the night brings out the rats learned fear. Similar to a day person who learns to be more afraid in the dark.

"The implications of this study to humans is that, being the day, the absence of light can be a source of fear. But the increase of light can be used to reduce fear, anxiety and to treat depression. If we can come to understand the cellular mechanisms that affect it, then eventually the abnormal fear and anxiety will be treated with drugs that enhance or mimic the light therapy, "said Wiltgen.

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Source: Isaude.net
   Palavras-chave:   Exposure to light    Fear    Panic    University of Virginia    Brian Wiltgen   
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