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How do brain chemicals affect mood?

Research awardFellows Award programme

Funding period2014 - 2017

InstitutionThe John Hopkins School of Medicine

LocationUnited States of America

Conditions

Dr Jeremiah Cohen is using innovative techniques to explore the role that brain chemical serotonin plays in affecting mood.

The project

Serotonin is widely associated with changes in mood and many antidepressants work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. 

But our understanding of how the chemical is involved in conditions like depression and anxiety at a cellular level remains limited.

So our researchers are using cutting-edge techniques to investigate the precise role of serotonin within the brain.

The process

The team is using techniques from genetics and physiology to study serotonin neurons in mice. Their aim is to create a map of serotonin activity in the brain, which can then be related back to humans. 

In particular researchers are looking at:

  • How serotonin is released during specific tasks
  • How serotonin acts in different parts of the brain
  • How serotonin affects emotional behaviour.

The potential

Until recently, the tools to dissect the behaviour of serotonin neurons in the brain haven’t been available.

That’s no longer the case. So our researchers have an opportunity to create a precise map of how serotonin behaves – and to lay the foundation for more selective use of current antidepressants and for a new generation of better treatments.

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