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Targeting Brain’s Anxiety Pathways
To develop better treatments, a more specific understanding of the brain circuits that produce anxiety is necessary, says Kay Tye, an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences and member of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.
In a step toward uncovering better targets, Tye and her colleagues have discovered a communication pathway between two brain structures — the amygdala and the ventral hippocampus — that appears to control anxiety levels. By turning the volume of this communication up and down in mice, the researchers were able to boost and reduce anxiety levels.
The tips of long neuronal extensions from the amygdala (blue) contact neurons of the hippocampus (green). This communication pathway helps to modulate anxiety. (Credit: Ada Felix-Ortiz)
Ada C. Felix-Ortiz, Anna Beyeler, Changwoo Seo, Christopher A. Leppla, Craig P. Wildes, Kay M. Tye. BLA to vHPC Inputs Modulate Anxiety-Related Behaviors. Neuron, 2013; 79 (4): 658 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.06.016