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Neuroscience 2011 reveals new goals for research


Neuroscience 2011, the Society f9or Neuroscience’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health occurred last week and some interesting research findings were revealed. Many of these will provide new directions for efforts in the years to come and hopefully provide new solutions to health problems many people struggle with today.

Since one in 17 Americans suffers from serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders or bi-polar disorder and since dementia is increasing with our ageing population, mental health has really taken a front seat with researchers. Interestingly, so many people are affected, but so much of the brain remains a mystery.

Some of the new findings include discoveries about the development of the brain in children who experience early-life depression and anxiety. These events alter the way the amygdale in the brain connects to other regions of the brain. This may unlock clues as to how early life stress can lead to future emotional and behavioral issues.

Researchers have also found a brain chemical important to antidepressant response in mice which will influence treatments for major depression in humans.

There are also active studies being done on the connections between two specific areas of the brain, the prefrontal cortex and the dorsal raphe nucleus. The quality of that connection may contribute to depression. Researchers found that when these circuits were stimulated in lab rats, it had an antidepressant effect.

Some labs are also studying an enzyme called STEP. They have found that STEP is elevated in the brains of people with schizophrenia. Additionally they have found that in mice lacking in the enzyme, they did not develop the disease.

“If we can fully understand the roots of mental illness in brain circuitry and systems, we may be able to develop better treatment targets for the millions suffering from these diseases,” said press conference moderator Carol Tamminga, MD, University of Texas Southwestern.

Source: Science Daily, Society for Neuroscience


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