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 September 1, 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 September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. Video provided by Newsy
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