Afraid of heights? What about spiders? A cure could be coming with a simple injection which prevents people from learning to be afraid, claim scientists.

A team of researchers in Japan have discovered that the brain may be able to be “re-programmed” to overcome most basic fears. According to scienteists, fear is a learned habit, and as a result, those emotions ould be switched off. Early tests indicate that goldfish given a dose of the drug lidocaine were unable to be scared.

The findings which have been published in BioMed Central’s open access journal, Behavioural and Brain Functions, could potentially provide relief for people who suffer chronic phobias that affect their daily lives.

Prof Masayuki Yoshida, of the University of Hiroshima, said the results of his research were exciting. “One day, our irrational phobias could become a thing of the past,” he said. “Imagine if your fear of spiders, heights or flying could be cured with a simple injection – our research suggests that one day this could be a reality.”

Source:, needle image from Flickr