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Mice Study Links Depression Symtoms to Abnormal Brain Wiring

Mice Study Links Depression Symtoms to Abnormal Brain Wiring

A new study has linked specific wiring in the brain to distinct behavioral symptoms of depression.

University of California San Diego scientists found brain circuits tied to feelings of despair and helplessness and were able to alleviate and even reverse such symptoms in mice studies.

The research is published in the journal Cell.

“We took an approach of studying depression in the sense that different brain areas and circuits of the brain might mediate or contribute to very discrete aspects of depression,” said study first-author Daniel Knowland, a University of California San Diego graduate student.

“For example, brain area A might contribute to loss of appetite, brain area B to social withdrawal and so forth.”

Senior author Dr. Byungkook Lim, an assistant professor in the Neurobiology Section, said the results require much more study and evaluation to be applied to humans with depression, but the new research in animal models provides solid grounding.

“This is one of the first studies providing clear evidence showing that different brain circuitry is involved in different types of depressive behavior with specific symptoms,” said Lim.

“Each area of the brain is different with distinct cell types and connectivity, so if we can confirm that one area of circuitry is more involved in a particular symptom than another, we may eventually be able to treat a depression patient more efficiently than treating everyone the same way.”

The researchers employed several tools to track brain pathways and specific areas of neurons involved in specific behaviors, including imaging techniques and social strategy behavioral models.

Two populations of neurons were identified in the brain’s ventral pallidum region (part of the basal ganglia) as key to underlying depressive behavior.

The new study found that specifically modifying pathways in these two areas in a mouse displaying depression led to improved behavioral changes similar to those of a healthy mouse.

More importantly, this study provides strong insight to understanding the interaction between several brain areas in depression.

Previous studies have mainly focused on the role of certain brain areas in isolation. Researchers in the new study were able to examine connections across multiple regions and how one impacted the other.

Source: University of California, San Diego

Mice Study Links Depression Symtoms to Abnormal Brain Wiring

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2017). Mice Study Links Depression Symtoms to Abnormal Brain Wiring. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 17, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2017/07/18/mice-study-suggests-depression-linked-to-abnormal-brain-wiring/123390.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 18 Jul 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 Jul 2017
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.