A research published in Nature Communications has demonstrated that the human brain needs to produce a specific substance in the the hippocampus (the part of the brain that is responsible for memory, especially long-term memory) in order to keep unwanted thoughts at bay. This finding shows that this substance may be artificially reproduced in a lab and it can help in the treatment of certain mental illnesses such as anxiety.
The hippocampus is a part of the brain. It is found in the inner folds of the bottom middle section of the brain, known as the temporal lobe. Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313295.php.
The gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA for short) is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in an adult human brain. It is widely spread within the brain, but its levels must be within a threshold in order to store our old, long-term memories. This study conducted by Dr. Taylor W. Schmitz and collaborators is very important to help scientists understand patients who suffer from mental illnesses such as anxiety and, to a certain degree, schizophrenia. Individuals who suffer from such conditions go through a wave of bad or unwanted thoughts that are directly linked to low levels of GABA in their brains. The ability to control bad thoughts is essential for our well-being and mental health.
When a bad thought arises without a specific reason, it can trigger an anxiety attack.
Another research conducted by Professor Marcello D’Amelio, of Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, Rome unicampus with expertise in Neuroscience, determined that Alzheimer’s disease does not affect the memory region of the brain as it was once thought. In fact, according to Prof. D’Amelio’s research, Alzheimer’s disease affects the region of the brain called ventral tegmental area (VTA) where dopamine is produced, a neurotransmitter that controls mood among other functions*.
As brain cells in the VTA region begin to die, dopamine production begins to decrease, which directly affects the hippocampus. Hence, memory loss being one of the symptoms of reduced dopamine levels in the brain. A decrease in dopamine production is the cause of yet another mental illness: depression. This explains why Alzheimer’s and depression usually go hand-in-hand.
These studies go to show the importance of well-being. Although there are no proven ways of preventing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, you may delay the onset of certain metal diseases by leading a healthy lifestyle and by having a positive attitude every day to change your future (for the better!).
*Dopamine is responsible for many functions, including memory, sleep, mood, pleasurable reward, behavior and cognition.