Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

WSU researchers demonstrate rare animal model for studying depression

26.10.2011
Washington State University researchers have taken a promising step toward creating an animal model for decoding the specific brain circuits involved in depression. By electrically stimulating a brain region central to an animal’s primary emotions, graduate student Jason Wright and his advisor Jaak Panksepp saw rats exhibit a variety of behaviors associated with a depressed, negative mood, or affect.
"We might now have a model that allows us to actually know where to look in the brain for changes relevant to depression, and we can monitor how activity in these regions change during states of negative affect and the restoration of positive affect,” says Wright. "There are no other models out there like this.”

The researchers caution that their work comes with a variety of caveats and that there are still many factors that need to be evaluated.

But while rats aren’t humans and can’t talk about their emotions, researchers like Panksepp have demonstrated in the past that their emotional behaviors can be valid indicators of their moods. The researchers also believe a focus on specific emotional circuits, shared by all mammals, is an improvement over less specific stressors.

"No one has previously stimulated a specific brain system and produced a depressive cascade,” says Panksepp, who has pioneered work in how core emotions stem from deep, ancient parts of the brain. "That is what this paper does.”

Their research, published in this month’s issue of the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, opens up new avenues of experimentation and treatments by offering a model in which scientists can directly create positive and negative affects with the dependent and independent variables that science relies on.

And with the pandemic of depression in Western society, the researchers say there is a real need for more specific tests focusing on depression-linked emotion networks in a highly controlled fashion.

For now, they say, the lack of animal models aimed at the core emotional issues of depression might be why little progress has been made in antidepressant medicinal development. They note that no conceptually novel drug treatments of depression have emerged since the accidental discovery in the 1960s that increasing brain neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and serotonin can alleviate some depressive symptoms.

Wright and Panksepp focused on a region called the dorsal periaqueductal gray, an area of gray matter in the midbrain that controls perceptions of pain, the fight-or-flight response and emotions of grief, panic and social loss. For 15 days, the researchers administered brief electrical stimuli to the region for a total of 30 seconds over a period of 10 minutes each day. For up to a month afterwards, they documented dramatic reductions in ultrasonic sounds that indicate a positive affective state.

Earlier work by Panksepp’s group has demonstrated that the squeal-like ultrasonic sounds reflect a primordial form of social joy comparable—and perhaps evolutionarily linked—to human laughter.

The rats also exhibited higher levels of agitation, drank less sugar water and explored their surroundings less—further indications of a depressed state.

Wright and Panksepp say they hope this kind of controlled, network-focused work opens a potential new era in the development of psychiatric models.
"In this way,” they write, "we may be able to more precisely identify the types of brain systems that lead to various forms of depressive despair and sift through their neurochemical underpinnings for the most promising brain chemicals and vectors for new medicinal development.”

Source:
Jaak Panksepp, Baily Endowed Chair of Animal Well-Being Science, Washington State University, 509-335-5803, jpanksepp@vetmed.wsu.edu
Media contact:
Eric Sorensen, Science Writer, 509-335-4846, eric.sorensen@wsu.edu

Jaak Panksepp | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wsu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'
23.01.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht Researchers identify a protein that keeps metastatic breast cancer cells dormant
23.01.2018 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>