A new study on the behavior of the zebrafish by researchers at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute has uncovered a key role for a region of the brain called the habenula nucleus in the development of fear responses. The discovery provides valuable insights applicable to the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses.
The survival of any living organism is crucially dependent on the actions it takes when faced with fearful situations. Fear responses are likewise important to the social well-being of human beings, where its malfunction has been linked to a variety of mental disorders. Yet while numerous brain regions have been connected to the memory of fearful experiences, the neural pathways governing how such experiences are translated into the selection of behavior remain a mystery.
To unravel this mystery, the researchers analyzed neural pathways of the zebrafish, a model organism with a simple brain, focusing on an evolutionarily-conserved region called the habenula nucleus present in all vertebrate species. Using fluorescent tracers, they identified a specific pathway connecting the lateral nuclei of the habenula (HbL), via the dorsal interpeduncular nucleus (dIPN), to a structure likely to correspond to regions in the mammalian brain implicated in the modulation of fear behaviors. Transgenic zebrafish with this pathway silenced were then subject to fear-conditioning tasks and compared to a control population.
To their surprise, the researchers found a dramatic difference between the groups: while normal zebrafish learned to invoke a flight response at the sight of a stimulus (red light, conditioned stimulus) associated with a fearful stimulus (electric shock, unconditioned stimulus), the transgenic fish responded by freezing, indicating an impaired response strategy. Published in Nature Neuroscience, the findings for the first time connect the experience-dependent selection of fear responses to a specific region of the brain, opening new paths for research and promising insights into related mental disorders such as PTSD.
For more information, please contact:Dr. Hitoshi Okamoto
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine