Unwanted, persistent, and intrusive thoughts are crippling when it comes to anxiety, OCD, PTSD, depression and a many other mental illnesses. Anything we encounter in our day-to-day lives can trigger an unwanted thought, and we usually have no control over them.
The prefrontal cortex has always been known for playing a significant role when it comes to controlling our actions and thoughts. Science Daily reports that Scientists Taylor Schmitz and Michael Anderson wanted to take this knowledge further, and finally figure out what part of the prefrontal cortex was responsible for inhibiting our thought process.
By conducting the “Think/No Think” procedure they set out to map the thought process of different volunteers. The task consisted of pairing unconnected words with each other and later asking the participants to either think of the paired word or not.
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With the help of fMRIs and other brain imaging technologies, the scientists were able to see what was going on within the participant’s’ brain, which displayed a lot of activity from the neurotransmitter GABA. Scientists concluded that GABA concentrations within the hippocampus helped predict people’s ability to block out certain thoughts and memories. This elevated activity is present in people with schizophrenia, PTSD, anxiety, and chronic depression, meaning that these results could provide much needed information and options when it comes to the treatment of different mental illnesses.