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Neural Basis of Anxiety: Newer Insights

r behaviour and the processing of ambiguous cues."

Using a new technique to switch off neural activity in selective brain cells in living mice, Gross and his colleagues discovered that a specific part of the hippocampus is required for correct processing of ambiguous stimuli.

"Shutting down a specific circuit in the hippocampus abolished fear reactions only to ambiguous cues," says Theodoros Tsetsenis who carried out the research in Gross' lab. "The pathway must be involved in processing and assessing the value of stimuli. It seems to bias mice to interpret situations as threatening."

The hippocampus is mainly known as a region important for learning and memory, but the results reveal a more general role in evaluating information and assessing contingencies. Neural circuits that govern fundamental behaviours like fear are often often conserved between species and patient studies suggest a role for the hippocampus in anxiety also in humans.

The new insights gained into serotonin signalling via the receptor 1A and the role of the hippocampus in fear behaviour in mice promise to shed light on the neural basis of anxiety disorders and open up new avenues for therapies.


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