Brain areas and mechanisms associated with depression and anxiety identified
Washington – A new study has revealed new mechanisms and areas of the brain associated with anxiety and depression, suggesting possible targets to understand and treat these debilitating mental illnesses.
According to Georgia Hodes, PhD, abstract, a molecule in the immune system may contribute to depression, suggesting a potential biomarker for the disease.
Yann Mineur, PhD, abstract revealed that decreasing a chemical signal in the amygdala, a brain area associated with emotional processing, produces antidepressant-like effects in mice.
Karen Scott, PhD, abstract suggested that MicroRNAs, tiny molecules that alter gene expression, correlate with how mice respond to socially stressful situations that cause depressive-like behaviour. The findings may help determine why some people are more likely to suffer from depression than others.
Other recent findings discussed show that a pathway between two brain regions, the amygdala and the hippocampus, plays a significant role in anxiety. Shutting down this connection can decrease anxiety-like behavior in mice.
The PhD presentation by Rony Paz suggested that aversive experiences can change how humans, particularly those with anxiety disorders, perceive stimuli. After a severe negative incident, patients with anxiety disorders over-generalize the experience and have increased emotional responses to subsequent similar situations.
The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2013.