With the advent of magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, we have begun to appreciate how the brain continues to develop structurally through adolescence and on into adulthood. High emotionality is a characteristic of adolescents and researchers are trying to understand how ‘emotional areas’ of the brain differ between adults and adolescents.
Scientists from the National Institute of Mental Health, publishing in the November 15th issue of Elsevier’s Biological Psychiatry, have helped to advance our understanding. They studied the amygdala, the major emotional center in the brain, which undergoes structural reorganization during adolescence. To do so, they examined emotional learning in both juvenile and adult mice.
“Our work on the amygdala revealed that the neuronal pathways that carry sensory information to the amygdala directly, bypassing cortex, are more plastic in the juvenile than in adult mice,” explained senior author Alexei Morozov, PhD.
John Krystal, MD, the Editor of Biological Psychiatry, further commented on this work: “Pan and colleagues elegantly describe one developmental ‘switch’ in the regulation of the amygdala. This switch may be one way that the cortex emerges during development as having a greater role in regulating the amygdala and thus, emotional behavior.”
Dr. Morozov concluded that “this finding suggests that emotional behaviors in adolescence are less precise and more irrational because they are driven more by subcortical than by cortical structures.”Notes to Editors:
The authors’ disclosures of financial and conflicts of interests are available in the article.
John H. Krystal, M.D. is Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and a research psychiatrist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. His disclosures of financial and conflicts of interests are available at http://journals.elsevierhealth.com/webfiles/images/journals/bps/BiologicalPsychiatry_Editorial_Disclosures_08_01_09.pdf.
Full text of the article mentioned above is available upon request. Contact Jayne M. Dawkins at email@example.com to obtain a copy or to schedule an interview.About Biological Psychiatry
Biological Psychiatry is ranked 4th out of the 101 Psychiatry titles and 14th out of 219 Neurosciences titles on the 2008 ISI Journal Citations Reports® published by Thomson Scientific.About Elsevier
A global business headquartered in Amsterdam, Elsevier employs 7,000 people worldwide. The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, a world-leading publisher and information provider, which is jointly owned by Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. The ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).Media Contact:
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