Have you ever wanted to stop ruminating on something and just been unable to?
Scientists could have the secret. They have identified a chemical in the brain’s “memory” region that allows us to suppress unwanted thoughts.
The discovery may help explain why some people can’t shift persistent intrusive thoughts – a common symptom of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and schizophrenia.
Researchers say controlling our thoughts is “fundamental to wellbeing”.
Prof Michael Anderson, from the University of Cambridge, who conducted the study, said: “When this capacity breaks down, it causes some of the most debilitating symptoms of psychiatric diseases – intrusive memories, images, hallucinations, ruminations, and pathological and persistent worries.”
Participants were asked to learn to associate a series of words with a paired, but otherwise unconnected, word – for example ordeal/roach and moss/north.
After this, they had to respond to either a red or green signal. If it was green, they were …