Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Possible off-switch for anxiety discovered

Date:
January 11, 2011
Source:
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
Summary:
Scientists have made a breakthrough concerning how anxiety is regulated in the vertebrate brain. The work sheds light on how the brain normally shuts off anxiety and also establishes the relevance of zebrafish as a model for human psychiatric disorders.

Scientists from the Agency of Science, Technology and Research/Duke-NUS Neuroscience Research Partnership (A*STAR/Duke-NUS NRP), A*STAR's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, and the National University of Singapore have made a breakthrough concerning how anxiety is regulated in the vertebrate brain. Their work, published in the journal Current Biology, sheds light on how the brain normally shuts off anxiety and also establishes the relevance of zebrafish as a model for human psychiatric disorders.

The team of scientists, led by Dr Suresh Jesuthasan from the A*STAR/Duke-NUS NRP, showed that disrupting a specific set of neurons in the habenula[1] prevents normal response to stressful situations. In their experiments, Dr Jesuthasan's team trained larval zebrafish to swim away from a light in order to avoid a mild electric shock. While normal fish easily learned this task, fish that had a specific set of neurons in the habenula damaged displayed signs of "helplessness."

Although they initially tried to avoid the shock, they soon gave up. What's more, these fish showed indications that they were more anxious than normal fish, such as being startled easily by non-harmful stimuli. Because of the similarity of the zebrafish[2] brain to the mammalian brain, the study suggests that malfunction of the habenula is a possible cause of certain anxiety disorders in humans. This means that it may be possible to use direct stimulation of the habenula as a way of treating some types of anxiety disorders in humans. The zebrafish model which the scientists developed in the course of their work may also be used in future drug discovery efforts for psychiatric medicines.

Dr Jesuthasan said, "Our work deals with fundamental aspects of human experience -- stress and anxiety. We think that the habenula of the brain is associated with the assessment of whether a stress has been overcome. Our study provides one possible explanation as to why the need to control the environment is such a critical component of human behavior -- the feeling of control enables organisms to deal with stress."

Notes:

[1] The habenula has been shown to be involved in many functions of the brain, such as pain processing, reproductive behavior, and learning. It also seems to be involved in reward processing, particularly with respect to negative/adverse feedback.

[2] The habenula is difficult to study in humans and in other mammals because it is located deep in the brain. However, the habenula in the zebrafish is located located near the surface of its brain, and is thus easily accessible for study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. "Possible off-switch for anxiety discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110111133258.htm>.
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. (2011, January 11). Possible off-switch for anxiety discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110111133258.htm
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. "Possible off-switch for anxiety discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110111133258.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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