Navigation Links
Researchers selectively control anxiety pathways in the brain
Date:3/9/2011

A new study sheds light--both literally and figuratively--on the intricate brain cell connections responsible for anxiety.

Scientists at Stanford University recently used light to activate mouse neurons and precisely identify neural circuits that increase or decrease anxiety-related behaviors. Pinpointing the origin of anxiety brings psychiatric professionals closer to understanding anxiety disorders, the most common class of psychiatric disease.

A research team led by Karl Deisseroth, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and bioengineering, identified two key pathways in the brain: one which promotes anxiety, and one which alleviates anxiety.

The pathways are in a brain region called the amygdala. Prior research suggests the amygdala plays a role in anxiety, but earlier studies used widespread modifications of the amygdala, through drugs or physical disruption of the brain region, to study the way in which it affects anxiety. This new work, published in this week's Nature, uses a tool called optogenetics--developed by Deisseroth and recently named Method of the Year by Nature Methods--to specifically tease out which pathways contribute to anxiety.

Optogenetics combines genetics and optical science to selectively manipulate the way a neuron fires in the brain. Neurons are electrically excitable cells that convey information through electrical and chemical signaling.

Directed genetic manipulations cause specific neurons to assemble a light-activated protein normally found in algae and bacteria. When triggered by certain wavelengths of light, these proteins allow researchers to increase or decrease neuronal activity in the brain and observe the effects on rodent models in an experiment.

Using optogenetic manipulation of various amygdala pathways, Deisseroth and colleagues examined how mouse behavior was affected. Since mice display anxiety-related behaviors in open spaces, they measured changes in anxiety by analyzing how much time mice spent exploring the center of an open field, or exploring the length of a platform without walls.

While optogenetics has been used to study amygdala function in behaviorally-conditioned fear, this is the first time it has been used to study anxiety. "Fear and anxiety are different," Deisseroth explained. "Fear is a response to an immediate threat, but anxiety is a heightened state of apprehension with no immediate threat. They share the same outputs, for example physical manifestations such as increased heart rate, but their controls are very different."

Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent among all psychiatric diseases, and include diseases such as post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobias. Anxiety also contributes to other major psychiatric disorders such as depression and substance abuse.

"Now that we know that these cell projections [in the amygdala] exist, we can first use this knowledge to understand anxiety more than we do now," Deisseroth noted.

Deisseroth has previously used optogenetics to study deep brain stimulation in Parkinson's disease. This research was detailed last year in the journal Science and reported online by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

"Deep brain stimulation is increasingly being considered for psychiatric disorders, so after studying Parkinson's disease, we started building towards research on psychiatric disorders," Deisseroth commented. Next he wants to use these tools to study depression and autism spectrum disorders.


'/>"/>

Contact: Bobbie Mixon
bmixon@nsf.gov
703-292-8485
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Researchers map all the fragile sites of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiaes genome
2. UH Case Medical Center researchers publish promising findings for advanced cervical cancer
3. Researchers discover new way to kill pediatric brain tumors
4. Researchers Who Discovered First Genes for Stuttering will Present Findings to the National Stuttering Association
5. Researchers create drug to keep tumor growth switched off
6. Urine protein test might help diagnose kidney damage from lupus, UT Southwestern researchers find
7. GUMC researchers say flower power may reduce resistance to breast cancer drug tamoxifen
8. Clemson researchers develop hands-free texting application
9. Researchers find biomarkers in saliva for detection of early-stage pancreatic cancer
10. Researchers chart genomic map spanning over 2 dozen cancers
11. Researchers discover second protective role for tumor-suppressor
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Researchers selectively control anxiety pathways in the brain
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 13, 2017 , ... Many families have long-term insurance that covers care for ... a waiver for care if the client has a cognitive impairment diagnosis. , ... care, is often waived, so the benefits from their insurance start immediately,” said Mechell ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Global Healthcare Management’s 4th Annual Kids Fun ... NJ. This free event, sponsored by Global Healthcare Management’s CEO, Jon Letko, is ... is geared towards children of all ages; it is a non-competitive, non-timed event, which ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... ... DevOps and Agile Software Development, has been awarded a contract by the Center ... Purchase Agreement (BPA) aims to accelerate the enterprise use of Agile methodologies in ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... First Healthcare Compliance (FHC), an ... showcase a range of technology and learning solutions at the 68th Annual American ... to be held October 14–18, 2017 at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... The ... demand of today’s consumer and regulatory authorities worldwide. From Children’s to Adults 50+, ... to meet the highest standard. , These products are also: Gluten Free, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/2/2017)... -- Diplomat Pharmacy, Inc. (NYSE: DPLO ) ... , and named its founder as Diplomat,s chief information ... Tennessee , will operate under Diplomat subsidiary Envoy ... for health care partners to include IT outsourcing, consulting, ... "In an interoperable world, technology delivers comprehensive insight and ...
(Date:10/2/2017)... Halo Labs announces the European launch of their new ... at MIBio 2017 in Cambridge, U.K on ... in biopharmaceutical samples with unprecedented speed and sensitivity while using far ... Membrane Imaging. ... particle analysis system ...
(Date:9/28/2017)... , Sept. 28, 2017 Cohen Veterans ... advance the use of wearable and home sensors for ... disorders. Early Signal Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on ... will provide an affordable analytical system to record and ... ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: