“The Pentagon this week announced an $11 million grant doled out to three research institutions, all of them long-time hubs for the military’s ongoing PTSD investigations. Experts at Emory University, the University of Southern California and New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center will study the effectiveness of D-Cycloserine (DCS). DCS is a pharmaceutical thought to help extinguish fearful memories.
…Exposure therapy is thought to work by allowing patients to revisit traumas in safe settings. Every time the mind remembers an event, it “rewrites” that recollection. By helping a patient rewrite traumatic memories to be less frightening, studies suggest that exposure therapy can significantly improve symptoms like nightmares and flashbacks.
Adding DCS seems to hasten that process, targeting the precise brain pathways responsible for regulating fear responses.
Researchers will look at two different kinds of exposure therapy: Virtual reality, where a patient is fully immersed in digital combat scenarios, and prolonged imaginal exposure therapy, which asks them to simply remember and recount fearful memories.