Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Performing complex tasks under stress activates hidden neuronal circuit in brain

Date:
April 20, 2010
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
Did you ever wonder how you are able to perform complex tasks -- even under stress? And how do emotions and memories mold your ability to live your everyday lives? Studies of a microscopic worm show how physiological detection of stress results in activation of a hidden neuronal circuit. It is suggested that such circuits form part of an escape response that enables animals to sense their environment and adapt their behavior under unfavorable conditions.

The entire nervous system is marked with red fluorescent protein and a subset of sensory and interneurons marked with green fluorescent protein.
Credit: Roger Pocock

Did you ever wonder how you are able to perform complex tasks -- even under stress? And how do emotions and memories mould your ability to live your everyday lives? The answer is just beginning to be understood and lies in hidden circuits in the brain.

Pioneering work by Roger Pocock, a newly arrived Group Leader at the research centre BRIC, University of Copenhagen, reveals the remarkable ability of organisms to activate latent neuronal circuits under stressful conditions. It is suggested that such circuits form part of an escape response that enables animals to sense their environment and adapt their behaviour under unfavourable conditions. This work is being published in the journal Nature Neuroscience on April 18 th*.

The human brain contains billions of neurons that build trillions of connections making it very complex to study behaviour at the level of the single neuron. Therefore, the Pocock laboratory uses the simple nervous system of the microscopic worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, to model how our environment modifies gene function, neuronal circuitry and behaviour. Using C. elegans, which contains just 302 neurons, Dr Pocock has identified a hidden neuronal circuit that modulates sensory perception under stress. Specifically, this work discovered that physiological detection of hypoxic (low oxygen) stress results in the activation of a hidden neuronal circuit involving the neuromodulators serotonin and the neuropeptide Y receptor.

This work implicates that mechanisms coupling hypoxia, serotonin and neuropeptide signaling also modifies behaviour in mammals. In fact, hypoxic stress enhances serotonin and neuropeptide production in specific regions of the mammalian brain, however, the functional output of this is poorly understood.

Roger Pocock did the experiments for this article at Columbia University, New York, where he worked as a researcher before coming to Denmark. He has previously published novel findings in Nature Neuroscience and his strong research potential within this field was essential for his recruitment as a Group Leader at BRIC.

"These and other studies in the burgeoning field of environment-gene-neuron interactions will hopefully enable us to better understand how to cope with stress in our every-changing and busy lives" says Roger Pocock.

As Charles Darwin himself said 'Man is but a worm'!


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Pocock et al. Hypoxia activates a latent circuit for processing gustatory information in C. elegans. Nature Neuroscience, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/nn.2537

Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "Performing complex tasks under stress activates hidden neuronal circuit in brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100418155447.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2010, April 20). Performing complex tasks under stress activates hidden neuronal circuit in brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100418155447.htm
University of Copenhagen. "Performing complex tasks under stress activates hidden neuronal circuit in brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100418155447.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain Surgery in 3-D

Brain Surgery in 3-D

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Neurosurgeons now have a new approach to brain surgery using the same 3D glasses you’d put on at an IMAX movie theater. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins