Scientists at the University of Coimbra (Portugal) and the American Institute MIT concluded that regular and moderate consumption of caffeine reduces the memory of fear and allow new therapeutic approaches to control phobias and depression.

A study by researchers at the Neurosciences and Cellular Biology Center (CNC) of UC and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shows that “regular consumption of moderate doses of caffeine reduces the expression of fear, opening doors to the development of new therapeutic approaches to control phobias and depression, “says the UC, in a statement released today.

“One of the bases is fear continued aversive memory” and in terms of public health, “the fear is associated with phobias, post-traumatic stress and depression,” says the UC.

Thus, there is “great interest by the scientific community handles this emotional reaction,” added the same note, noting that in the US, for example, is even “a priority due to the high incidence of post-traumatic stress.”

Centered in the amygdala region of the brain – “where fear memories are encoded” – the study by researchers from UC and MIT shows that “the persistence of aversive memory depends on an abnormality in the signaling mediated by A2A receptor (actors involved in the communication in the central nervous system) “.

Faced with this evidence, experts conducted experiments in mice, exposing them to negative situations in sensory and spatial context.

Secondly, explains the UC, the animals were separated into two groups and subjected again to cause aversion events.

The one group was administered daily an analogue caffeine block that A2A receptors and these animals registered “progressive decrease in retention of aversive memory”.

When placed in the context causing fear, mice “set their behavior, ie, acquired a positive adaptation,” said Rodrigo Cunha, study coordinator, cited by UC.

The research results are likely to have a significant clinical impact in the future, admits Rodrigo Cunha, stressing that “from here it is possible to design and develop drugs to control phobias and trauma, avoiding the evolution to depression, the disease with the highest incidence in Western world. ”

But, warns the CNC researcher and lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine at UC are still needed further studies in humans.

The research, which was funded by the US Department of Defense, will be published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

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