Scientists identify brain cells that help drive bodily reaction to fear, anxiety — ScienceDaily

Strong emotions such as fear and anxiety tend to be accompanied and reinforced by measurable bodily changes including increased blood pressure, heart rate and respiration, and dilation of the eyes’ pupils. These so-called “physiological arousal responses” are often abnormally high or low in psychiatric illnesses such as anxiety disorders and depression. Now scientists at the UNC School of Medicine have identified a population of brain cells whose activity appears to drive such arousal responses.

The scientists, whose study is published in Cell Reports, found that artificially forcing the activity of these brain cells in mice produced an arousal response in the form of dilated pupils and faster heart rate, and worsened anxiety-like behaviors.

The finding helps illuminate the neural roots of emotions, and point to the possibility that the human-brain counterpart of the newly identified population of arousal-related neurons might be a target of future treatments for anxiety disorders and other illnesses involving abnormal arousal responses.

“Focusing on arousal responses might offer a new way to intervene in psychiatric disorders,” said first author Jose Rodríguez-Romaguera, PhD, assistant professor in the UNC Department of Psychiatry and member of the UNC Neuroscience Center, and co-director of the Carolina Stress Initiative at the UNC School of Medicine.

Rodríguez-Romaguera and co-first author Randall Ung, PhD, an MD-PhD student and adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry, led this study when they were members of the UNC laboratory of Garret Stuber, PhD, who is now at the University of Washington.

“This work not only identifies a new population of neurons implicated in arousal and anxiety, but also opens the door for future experiments to systematically examine how molecularly defined cell types contribute to complex emotional and physiological states,” Stuber said. “This will be critical going forward for developing new treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders.”

Anxiety disorders, depression, and other disorders featuring abnormally high or low arousal responses affect a large fraction of the human population, including tens of millions of adults in the United States alone. Treatments may alleviate symptoms, but many have adverse side effects, and the root causes of these disorders generally remain obscure.

Untangling these roots amid the complexity of the brain has been an enormous challenge, one that laboratory technology has only recently begun to surmount.

Rodríguez-Romaguera, Ung, Stuber and colleagues examined a brain region within the amygdala called the BNST (bed nucleus of the stria terminalis), which has been linked in prior research to fear and anxiety-like behaviors in mice.

Increasingly, scientists view this region as a promising target for future psychiatric drugs. In this case, the researchers zeroed in on a set of BNST neurons that express a neurotransmitter gene, Pnoc, known to be linked to pain sensitivity and more recently to motivation.

The team used a relatively new technique called two-photon microscopy to directly image BNST Pnoc neurons in the brains of mice while the mice were presented with noxious or appealing odors — stimuli that reliably induce fear/anxiety and reward behaviors, respectively, along with the appropriate

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Tonawanda’s Aquatic and Fitness Center swims in red ink; members fear for its future | Local News

Many have newer equipment and offer cheaper rates, particularly for people who don’t want to swim, he said.

In response, the town in the last year or two began offering patrons the chance to pay separately for the use of the pool or the gym .

The facility’s financial problems predate the Covid-19 pandemic.

Revenues from membership fees, pool rentals and other sources have slipped slightly since 2016, to $1 million in the town’s 2020 adopted budget, while expenses to run the facility have risen to more than $1.4 million in the current year’s budget.

But that figure doesn’t include benefits paid to Aquatic and Fitness Center employees. Taking into account this and other costs such as pool chemicals, town officials said, the annual deficit approaches $600,000.

“The losses are just getting too high for us to sustain,” Tonawanda Supervisor Joseph Emminger said.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the facility had six full-time and 186 part-time workers. Today, while the gym remains closed, the venue has two full-time and 91 part-time workers.

The town, following state public health guidelines, closed the facility in March. The town reopened the pool on Oct. 1 – without the whirlpool, steam room and sauna – but opted to keep the gym closed.

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How much bias is too much to become a police officer? Experts fear new law might backfire.

An ambitious new law in California taking aim at potential biases of prospective officers has raised questions and concerns among police officers and experts who fear that if implemented inadequately, the law could undermine its own mission to change policing and culture of law enforcement.



a person holding a sign: A billboard in the town of Marysville, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2020. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post/file)


© Melina Mara/The Washington Post
A billboard in the town of Marysville, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2020. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post/file)

The law, which was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 30, will expand the present screening requirements by mandating all law enforcement agencies to conduct mental evaluations of peace officer candidates to identify both implicit and explicit biases against race, ethnicity, gender, religion and sexual orientation in order to exclude unfit recruits.

While experts, police unions and lawmakers agree on the value of identifying whether those who aspire to become officers carry considerable degrees of biases, it is the lack of clarity on what tools and measures will be used to look for implicit biases that is raising concerns and prompting questions.

“If police departments start to reject applicants because they have implicit biases there will be no one left to hire,” said Laurie Fridell, professor of Criminology at the University of South Florida and founder of the Fair and Impartial Policing program, one of the most popular implicit bias awareness trainings in the country.

Under the new law, the state Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) will review and develop new regulations and screening materials to identify these potential explicit and implicit biases. It will be up to each agency in the state to determine how to administrate them.

POST information officer Meagan Catafi would not say whether implicit association tests will be part of the new screenings, arguing “it is too premature at this point to know what will be assessed and used in our materials.”

Catafi said POST will be working with psychologists and law enforcement experts to incorporate these new required items to the current psychological screening manual and have until January 2022 to complete the process.

The law comes amid a moment of social upheaval where police departments across the country are facing scrutiny and increasing calls for accountability over cases of slayings of unarmed civilians and excessive use of force that predominantly affects minorities.

This has prompted many agencies to ramp up efforts to identify racist and other discriminatory beliefs that could lead to destructive behavior, mostly by incorporating bias, diversity and inclusion training programs for active officers.

None of the experts interviewed by The Washington Post claimed to know of law enforcement agencies that screen for unconscious biases — those that people are unwilling or unable to identify — as a hiring standard. All of them, however, are either wary of such approach or advice against it.

“This is a tough one. What do you do if someone tests positive for racism?” Do you train them again? Do you fire them? There are a lot of unknowns about how this

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Fear and anxiety spike in virus hot spots across US

Preslie Paur breaks down in tears when she thinks of her state’s refusal to mandate face masks.

The South Salt Lake City, Utah, woman can’t work at her special education job due to an autoimmune disease. Her husband, also a special ed teacher, recently quit because his school district would not allow him to work remotely to protect her and their 5-year-old son, who has asthma.

“I feel forgotten,” Paur said. “We’re living in a world we no longer fit in. We did everything right. We went to college, we got jobs, we tried to give back to our community, and now our community is not giving back to us. And I’m very scared.”


As President Donald Trump barnstorms the swing states, often downplaying the coronavirus pandemic before largely unmasked crowds, the nation continues to lurch toward what his opponent Joe Biden, citing health experts, warned will be a “dark winter” of disease and death.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN on Sunday that “we’re not going to control the pandemic.” Asked why, he said it’s “because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”

Vice President Mike Pence will continue campaigning despite his chief of staff testing positive for COVID-19. His office said Pence and his wife both tested negative for the virus Sunday.

About half of U.S. states have seen their highest daily infection numbers so far at some point in October, and the country as a whole came very close to back-to-back record daily infection rates on Friday and Saturday.

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that 83,718 new cases were reported Saturday, just shy of the 83,757 infections reported Friday. Before that, the most cases reported in the United States on a single day had been 77,362, on July 16.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which federal health officials have used as a source for their pandemic projections, currently forecasts that the U.S. COVID-19 death toll could exceed 318,000 by Jan. 1.

As of Sunday, there were nearly 8.6 million confirmed infections in the U.S., with 224,906 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

At least seven states — Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio and Oklahoma — saw record high infection levels Saturday. And some Northeastern states hit hard in the spring are seeing numbers bounce back; New Jersey’s toll of 1,909 new infections Saturday was the most it had seen in a day since early May.

The virus also is surging in the Mountain West, especially Idaho and Utah.

In Twin Falls, Idaho, new data suggest that 1 in 24 residents has contracted the coronavirus, said Dr. Joshua Kern, vice president of medical affairs at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center. Amid a crush of new cases, the hospital brought in nurses from Boise, scaled back elective surgery and, as of Friday, stopped admitting pediatric patients.

“It’s gotten kind of out of hand,” Kern told The Associated Press. “We’ve had

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Dentist Phobia – How To Turn Your Fear Of Dentists Into A Healthy Smile

There are lots of people with anxiety about going to the dentist. It is something that is difficult to overcome. I have had a fear of the dentist that included avoiding going for years and when I did go I had panic attacks on the way, in the dentist and in the chair.

By visiting your dentist regularly you can prevent problems before they start. Those who avoid going to the dentist are actually risking their teeth needing more serious treatment. Basically what it comes down to is that if you don't overcome your fear you teeth will get into a worse condition and the treatments will be more complex.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Dental procedures have advanced so much that nothing is as frightening or painful as before. Yes some of the procedures do hurt but nothing you can't handle. It is the fear that is the most serious issue. As someone who has overcome this – the number one thing you must do is communicate. Communicate to your dentist that you have some fear. There are lots of dentists nowadays who are much more sensitive to how their patients feel. If they are aware of this they can help you. I know that when I spoke to my dentist about the fear half of it went anyway.

Remember regular cleaning visits to your dentist are the best way to keep your teeth healthy and prevent problems. That is the measure for your teeth and you fear. Just take small regular steps.

Some tips on what your options are and how you can get help with your dentist fear.

Overcoming Dental Anxiety

• Dentists are now using mild sedatives know as sedation which means you can sleep right through any complex treatment. You just wake up afterwards when it is finished.

• Ask friends or family for a recommendation for a dentist so that you know you are seeing a sensitive and approachable dentist.

• When visiting the dentist don't hesitate to ask any questions – remember you are the customer.

• Let the dentist know you have anxiety and build some trust between you both.

Over time you will work with your dentist and overcome your fear whilst establishing a great relationship with your dentist.

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Fear of Dentist Dental Phobia -Odontophobia Treatment and Cure

Statistics show that for many people with dental phobia, the onset resulted fro a traumatic experience in childhood. That was what happened to me. I had an abscessed tooth and the dentist pulled it with no Novocain and never prescribed an antibiotic. After that even the thought of getting my teeth cleaned would make me physically ill. When our children were young I took them to a dentist who dealt exclusively with children. I couldn't stay in the room with them. This kind man had me just sit in the chair and chat with him. When I was comfortable with that (a few weeks) he took x-rays, then we progressed to a cleaning. It took four months to get to that point and another two before I allowed him to fill two cavities.

This is not an atypical approach to dental phobias. Many therapists recommend this method. Some dentists don't feel comfortable with this approach, and will refer you to someone who uses it routinely.

Those who developed dental phobias as a result of a horrific experience are referred to by some researchers as exogenous phobics, while those who develop it as a result of a sense of loss of control or from hearing of other people's tales of terror are considered endogenous.

Some people have a form of the condition where they may fear only one dental procedure, such as the Novocain injection, the gas mask, or more commonly the noise of the drill.

Dental phobia can seriously affect a person's life. In addition to poor dental health, an oral infection can become systemic and cause serious overall health issues. Also some sufferers begin to withdraw from friends and associates because they are embarrassed by the appearance of their teeth. They can become seriously depressed. Loss of self esteem, over not being able to overcome the fear, also can be a problem.

If you are a dental phobic you may be ashamed of being afraid of something that everyone else does routinely and probably think nobody else feels the way you do. Researchers estimate, that between 5 and 20% of people in western countries never see a dentist due to fear.

Don't despair, you can get dental phobia and fear treatment and cure. You can call a dentist and explain the problem, she may be able to help you or refer you to someone who can.

Your medical doctor can refer you to a therapist. Before beginning with a therapist ask if they have experience with dental phobia. The local school of dental medicine should also be able to help you with a referral at the very least.

How does treatment proceed? Some therapists suggest what my kids' dentist used more than 30 years ago. A gradual desensitization. Get comfortable sitting in the chair, having x-rays, cleaning and finally whatever treatment is needed.

Others start out with therapy sessions, aimed at getting to whatever may have triggered the phobia. This is the key to beginning the healing process. Then …

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How to Cure Dentist Phobia – Stop Your Fear of Dentists

You know that you need good dental care but unless you can stop your fear of dentists it will cause you to keep putting off those appointments.

You want to keep your teeth in tip top condition but your dentist phobia means that you positively dread having someone poking and prodding around in your mouth, then making you slurp down some sort of fluoride goop that tastes like a cross between bubble gum and Tylenol.

Stop Your Fear of Dentists

One way to help stop your fear of dentists is to ask to be “put under” while they drill away. That way, once the anesthetic has started to work, you’ll be unconscious while your dentist does their work. This can work but it’s an extreme solution – one that you should really only consider if you don’t have time to work out any other solution for your dentist phobia. And you may need to change dentists as not all are authorized to perform this kind of operation.

Another way is to take a trusted friend with you to literally hold your hand whilst the dentist performs his or her duty.

If you have more time available, you can stop your fear of dentists in its tracks by using the ancient art of hypnosis.

Trips to the dentist are never fun. After all, who would voluntarily go to lie down on a chair with a dentist scraping and prodding away at your precious teeth? Sometimes even thinking about a trip to the dentist can bring on your fear of dentists. You start thinking about cavities, fillings, drills, needles. And your dentist phobia comes up full strength!

Through hypnosis, you can stop your fear of dentists and allow a trained professional to help you keep your teeth in pristine condition. Your dental phobia will be banished to the past, where it belongs.

All you need to do is listen to one simple MP3 track. You can do this in the comfort of your own home, maybe listening on your iPod, well away from the source of your dentist phobia.

Hypnosis is a method where you can reach a deep state of relaxation. Once that state is reached, your subconscious mind will be given a series of suggestions which will help you to stop your fear of dentists. Many people all over the world have overcome their dentist phobia with hypnosis. It’s one of the most cost-effective treatments that you can find. You don’t even need to take a trip to a professional hypnotherapist – there are many CDs and MP3s out there that will do the trick for less than the cost of your next checkup.

You owe it to yourself to keep your teeth in pristine condition. If you suffer from dentist phobia then you need to find a way to stop your fear of dentists in its tracks.

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How to Overcome Your Fear of Going to the Dentist

One of the major phobias that people, both adults and children alike, have is the fear of going to the dentist. Just the thought of sitting in that space-age dental chair and the dentist looming ominously over us is enough to set the heart pumping. Throw in all the scary instruments lying in plain view and it’s a wonder we don’t just get up and run for our life!

This fear of dentists has gained enough importance to be christened with many exotic names like dentist phobia, dento-phobia, odonto-phobia, etc. Dental fear and anxiety are considered a serious affliction and many methods are being devised to tackle this very real fear. It is quite common to find people who would rather endure excruciating tooth pain than go to the dentist to get relief.

If you are here reading this article, you are probably one of the majority who hate the idea of making a dental appointment. It might be the thought of keeping your mouth open while a masked stranger prods and pokes your gums and teeth with instruments that make fearful noises. Or it could be the anticipation of pain that is making you apprehensive.

This kind of dental fear is very common and is in fact a universal phenomenon. There are those who are fearful because of previous bad experiences with dentists and then there are those who have heard someone narrate their horrifying experiences. Whether you are someone with a direct bad experience or someone with an indirect experience, there is still hope.

Dental procedures and even the training giving to dentists have improved dramatically over the years. Dental offices are no longer scary places. They are now staffed with warm and friendly hygienists who make sure you are comfortable. The ambience of the waiting room is definitely better than before.

Some dental clinics play soft music in the background to help you relax. A good dentist will spend considerable time getting acquainted with you and will help you relax before peering into your mouth. They also take time to explain what is wrong and what needs to be done to set your teeth straight.

‘Tell-Show-Do Technique’ is followed by most dentists in modern times. This technique makes sure that the dentist has described and discussed the problem in detail with the patient, has shown him or her what needs to be done and how painlessly it can be done, and only then proceeds with doing the actual procedure.

This sort of open communication between the dentist and the patient is absolutely necessary for managing ‘dental fears’. This should calm you down sufficiently. However, if you have a serious case of dental heebie-jeebies, you can go for help to one of the several clinics that have been set up to treat and manage this issue under medical supervision.

Interestingly, fear measurement instruments like the ‘Modified Dental Anxiety Scale’ and the ‘Corah’s Dental Anxiety Scale’ are used to determine the level of fear in a person. Based on …

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Fear of the Dentist – Movies, Media and Negative Images

Anyone who has read Mary Shelly’s fictional novel, “Frankenstein,” or has seen any of the myriad of Hollywood horror films beginning with Boris Karloff’s portrayal of the tragic monster, are aware that Victor Frankenstein, the doctor responsible for it’s creation, was a physician who had higher purpose on his mind and a mad scientist’s ego as his driving force.

I am surprised however, that given our profession’s negative and painful image, the title character wasn’t a dentist. After all, though we are quite respected within our communities and do possess the technology to create nearly painless dental experiences, dentistry has been, and still remains, among the most feared and hated of all health professions. Over the years I’ve heard more than a few women comment at social gatherings, “I’d rather have a baby than a root canal.” Dental treatment can make the strongest man in the world sweaty and weak at the knees. The fact that Frankenstein was an MD and not a DDS or a DMD is of some, but frankly, very little comfort.

Even though the dental profession has taken many positive steps towards making dental treatment more comfortable for the public, the negative image of uncaring dentists and painful dentistry has been drilled into the minds of the public for years, not only through negative personal experiences and dental “horror” stories, but also through books, cartoons, TV shows and films. Sadly, that representation continues today through the same channels as well through the Internet, websites, blogging, and YouTube movies.

Unfair and negative depictions of dentists as comic relief or as aloof, uncaring and sadistic, and negatively slanted depictions of dental treatment by the arts and media have scared the psyche of the public and created unnecessary fear. The saddest point is that even in 2010, there are still few if any positive dental characters or memorable passages from books or scenes from movies to counterbalance that negative image. Unfortunately, there are no friendly and affable neighborhood dentists, like Dr. Marcus Welby, MD.

Popular culture has not been kind to dentists. It began with classic paintings of barber who were the dentists of that era, standing on top of horrified, screaming patients with some kind of medieval tool in hand.

As a child, I remember characters in old black-and-white cartoons that devised contraptions of ropes, pulleys and doorknobs to remove a tooth rather than go to the dentist. These images continue to the present in many cartoon series.

In films by the classic comedy duo, Laurel and Hardy, or on episodes in the 1950’s Abbott and Costello TV show, I remember the pained expression on Oliver Hardy’s or Lou Costello’s handkerchief-wrapped face. A string was tied to his tooth and then tied to a doorknob on the other end. Then the other partner slams the door and the tooth goes flying. Funny Huh?

The number one phobia producing film is the 1976 film version of William Goldman’s book, The Marathon Man. In it, there are scenes in which …

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