Memories of traumatic experiences tend to have a lasting effect on individuals of varying ages. Sometimes these memories translate to post-traumatic stress disorder. The fear and shock a person may feel due to these memories occur as a result of a stress hormone called cortisol. Professor Dominique de Quervain at the University of Basel and his team decided to figure out what exactly influences cortisol in these types of situations. His research focused on the DNA methylation of the genes that controlled cortisol signaling. The participants of Quervain’s study were either survivors of the Ugandan civil war or the Rwandan genocide. That said, the ones with stronger regulation of the NTRK2 gene had fewer traumatic memories and were less likely to develop PTSD. It has also been discovered that NTRK2 plays an important role in memory formation. Those with stronger regulation of the NTRK2 gene are worse at memory recall in comparison to those with weaker regulation. Therefore, a person with stronger regulation of the NTRK2 gene experiencing a traumatic event is less likely to have that event engraved in their memories. If the person has a weaker recollection of what occurred, they’re also less likely to develop PTSD. Quervain hopes that this information can aid in the creation of new therapies and help those suffering from PTSD. His next step is launching clinical projects which can hopefully expand further on this discovery.
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