A Potential Target for Anxiety-Reducing Drugs Has Been Discovered

A Potential Target for Anxiety-Reducing Drugs Has Been Discovered ...

Neuroscientists have identified a new pathway in the brain, which is linked to anxiety and fear related to freezing. The research claims that it reveals a key pathway in the brain that is already used in the journal eLife. A potential new drug regimen for treating anxiety and psychological disorders has been identified.

Existing anxiety-reducing medications aren''t always effective for all patients and often have unwanted side effects. Developing effective therapies for anxiety disorders may be a benefit.

Neuroscientists from the University of California of Physiology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience, aimed to investigate how the brains cerebellum, which is linked to many brain regions associated with survival networks, influences activity in another area of the brain called the periaqueductal grey (PAG). This PAG area is at the core of central networks that co-ordinate survival mechanisms, including fear-evoked coping responses.

Researchers equipped animal models with electrodes to record activity inside the brains PAG region and applied a conditioning task, where an auditory tone is paired with a small foot shock, triggering a fear memory and a behavioral index of fear.

However, when cerebellar output was altered during conditioning, the subsequent timing of fear-related neuronal activity in the PAG became less precise, and the duration of fear-related freezing behaviour increased, confirming that cerebellar-periaqueductal grey interactions contributed to fear conditioning processes. The researchers identified that the manipulation of a direct cerebellar-PAG pathway, also caused fears in cold freezing and ultrasonic vocalizations.

The research''s lead authors, Dr Charlotte Lawrenson and Elena Paci, explain that until now, little was understood about how the cerebellum radiated neuronal activity in other brain regions, mainly those related to fear and anxiety. Importantly, our findings demonstrate that the cerebellum is an integral part of the brains survival network, which regulates fear memory processes at multiple timescales and in many ways; raising the possibility that dysregulation in the brains cerebellar-survival network might entail fear

The findings provide new insights into the way the PAG encodes fear memory and also demonstrate that the cerebellum is an additional key component in the list of brain regions that contribute to the fear/anxiety network and provides a fresh approach to treating psychological conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

You may also like: