Neuroscientists Find Brain Circuit That Drives Anxiety

Mental Health News: Neuroscientists have identified a neural circuit in the amygdala that gives rise to anxiety. They found the critical role of a molecule called dynorphin, which could serve as a target for treatment of anxiety-related disorders.

Anxiety is the most common brain disorder affecting about 18% of the adult US population. Previous studies indicate that two regions in the amygdala — the central amygdala and the BNST — coordinate short-term and long-term responses to various kinds of threatening stimuli.

Neuroscientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory aimed to find the underlying circuit and cellular mechanisms in these regions that control the generation of anxiety. The research team genetically manipulated one specific type of neuron called SOM+ because of a peptide they express called somatostatin.”SOM+” neurons are necessary for the learning of fear responses.The team knocked out a gene linked to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia called Erbb4 in SOM+ neurons in the central amygdala.

The experiment results showed heightened anxiety in mice. The team traced the mechanism behind this anxiety within a circuit that runs between the central amygdala and the BNST. They found that deleting Erbb4 increased excitation of SOM+ neurons, which led to a large increase in signaling by dynorphin, a peptide made by these neurons. This process disturbed the normal in inhibition of SOM+ neurons in the BNST, making them overactive.

Research concludes that Dynorphin signaling drives anxious behavior in people. By manipulating this circuit in mice, the team was able to lower anxiety. Therefore, Dynorphin could be a cellular target for Neuroscientists for future anti-anxiety drugs.

To Know More, You May Refer To:

Ahrens, S., Wu, M. V., Furlan, A., Hwang, G., Paik, R., Li, H., Penzo, M. A., Tollkuhn, J., & Li, B. (2018). A central extended amygdala circuit that modulates anxiety. The Journal of Neuroscience38(24), 5567-5583.

Up Next

How Social Media Makes Teens Materialistic

How Social Media Makes Teens Materialistic

A recent study revealed how social media makes teens materialistic.

Increased materialism is also linked to low self-esteem and poor mindfulness in adolescents.

Adolescent Mental Health

Adolescent mental health refers to the emotional, psychological, and social well-being of young people between the ages of 10 and 19. It is a critical period of development, characterized by rapid physical, cognitive, and social changes, which can lead to various mental health issues, such as:

Up Next

Why Just Listening In Silence To Someone With Depression Doesn’t Help?

Listening In Silence To Someone With Depression

A large body of research validates the benefits of listening in silence to someone with depression and social anxiety.

These works also highlight the importance of reflective listening and empathetic advising in mental health conversations.

Depression And The Science Of Listening

Depression is a debilitating mental health condition, marked by symptoms like sadness, anhedonia, worthlessness, and fatigue. Many people with depression find it difficult to manage their symptoms on their own and benefit from having someone to talk to.

Up Next

Is There A Rising Wave Of Sadness In Teen Girls?

Rising Wave Of Sadness In Teen Girls

Studies reveal greater incidences of violence and sadness in teen girls.

Early mental health care and a strong support system can go a long way in addressing these mental health issues.

Teen Girls’ Mental Health

Adolescence is a time of overwhelming changes. This phase also brings with it great vulnerability to poor mental health, especially in teenage girls.

Research shows that teenage girls are struggling with mental illnesses that impact their daily functioning and social relationships. The prevale

Up Next

Can Menstrual Disorders Change Women’s Brains?

Can Menstrual Disorders Change Women's Brains

Menstrual disorders refer to a range of conditions that affect a person's menstrual cycle.

Recent studies show that menstrual disorders change women's brains, making them susceptible to mental health disorders.

What Are Menstrual Disorders?

Menstrual disorders are conditions that affect a woman's menstrual cycle (or the regular, cyclical process that occurs in a woman's body to prepare for pregnancy).

Menstrual disorders can include a variety of different conditions that affect the frequency, duration, intensit

Up Next

Is India’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy Effective?

India's National Suicide Prevention Strategy

India's Mental Health Care Act (MHCA) decriminalizes suicide, mandating the protection of individuals' rights who attempt suicide.

The act also provides for the establishment of a National Suicide Prevention Strategy (NSPS) to reduce suicide mortality by 10% by 2030.

Poor Mental Health And Suicide In India

Recent research shows that diagnosed, untreated, and mistreated mental disorders account for 88% of suicides in India. In the last two decades, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, the suicide rate has increased from

Temple Grandin: A Compelling Portrayal Of Autism And The Power Of Individuality When Van Gogh Cut His Own Ear: The Famous Van Gogh Syndrome 14 Tips To Boost Your Self-Love And Mental Health Beyond The Mask: Jim Carrey’s Journey Through Depression Keanu Reeves: A Look into His Journey with Mental Health Why Amanda Bynes Was Placed on Psychiatric Hold? The Unseen Struggle: Princess Diana’s Battle With An Eating Disorder Iconic Movie Actresses and Histrionic Personality Disorder: Exploring Complexity Hikikomori: Understanding The Japanese Culture-Bound Syndrome Is Brendan Fraser’s Oscar-Win Also A Mental Health Success Story? Are Chefs at Higher Risk of Mental Illness and Suicide? Can A Good Walk In The Woods Clear Your Head?