âž¡ï¸Previous research suggests serotonin, plays a pivotal role in regulating mood and contributing to mental well-being. The brain's serotonin levels are partly controlled by proteins on the surface of brain cells - the serotonin transporter. When transporter levels are high, serotonin levels are lower, explains Shaun Quah, a neuroscience researcher at the @cambridgeuniversity & co-author of study.ðŸ§
âž¡ï¸Previously, scientists didn't exactly know how serotonin systems in particular brain regions influence individual differences in trait-anxiety.ðŸ§
âž¡ï¸Research team examined marmosets (small monkeys) & set up two experiments:-
...... ðŸ”Ž(1) They placed each monkey in a cage. Exposed them to a human, wearing mask, [who maintaied an eye contact with monkey for 2 mins].
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They observed how the monkeys reacted before, during, and after encountering the human intruder. They tracked their avoidance level and behavioural shifts (indicative of their anxiety-level). They created anxiety scores for each animal.ðŸ§ ..... ðŸ”ŽThe animals with the highest anxiety scores spent the majority of their time towards the back of the cage, high up, remaining relatively still, and making head and body bobs and calls, the study reports.ðŸ§ ..... ðŸ”ŽResearchers also analysed brain regions:- prefrontal cortex, amygdala, the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, and raphe nuclei. They examined levels of expression for the serotonin transporter gene in these specific areas.ðŸ§ ..... ðŸ”ŽThis revealed that monkeys with heightened reactivity (those that were the most anxious) had high levels of gene expression for serotonin transporters in their amygdala.
This finding suggests serotonin signaling may be driving anxious behavior.ðŸ§ ..... ðŸ“—ðŸ“—2nd experiment: conducted to see if they could modulate this serotonin signaling.
âž¡ï¸Second experiment:- Researches selected 6 monkeys those exhibited trait-anxiety. Then, implanted thin metal tubes directly into their brains while they were under anesthesia. The team subsequently directly infused SSRI medication to the anxious monkeys' amygdalae. ..... âž¡ï¸Researchers then repeated first experiment:- placing each monkey into the cage & exposed them to an unkown human, wearing mask, who maintained an eye contact for 2 mins & tracked monkeys' reactions (individually). ..... âž¡ï¸After the direct infusion, monkeys experienced immediate symptom relief and expressed reduced levels of anxiety-related behaviors. Directly infusing SSRIs to the amygdalae caused a much faster anti-anxiety effect in the monkeys than typically seen with oral SSRI's medications [relief normally takes several weeks to appear,if taken orally]. .....
âž¡ï¸Research need to be translated into humans before it can be said confidently that this version of SSRI treatment would work for people. Currently, implanting tubes specifically for anti-anxiety drug delivery into the human brain isn't a viable option, Quah says. But yes, results do suggest that targeting the amygdalae may speed up effective treatment for animals and people with trait anxiety.
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