By combining super-fine electrodes and tiny amounts of a very specific drug, Duke University researchers have singled out a circuit in mouse brains and taken control of it to dial an animal’s mood up and down.
Stress-susceptible animals that behaved as if they were depressed or anxious were restored to relatively normal behavior by tweaking the system, according to a study appearing in the July 20 issue of Neuron.
“If you ‘turn the volume up’ on animals that hadn’t experienced stress, they start normal and then they have a problem,” said lead researcher Kafui Dzirasa, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and neurobiology. “But in the animals that had experienced stress and didn’t do well with it, you had to turn their volume up to get them back to normal. It looked like stress had turned the volume down.”