Skip to main content

Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Research Highlights about Basic Research

A drawing of parapinopsin, a photoswitchable GPCR that can be turned on using UV light and turned off using amber light. Credit: Copits, B. et al., (2021). A photoswitchable GPCR-based opsin for presynaptic inhibition. Neuron, 109(11), 1791–1809.e11.
Tool Uses Light to Inhibit Neural Activity in Mice

Researchers supported by NIH have developed a way to genetically insert a type of light receptor into neurons. The new technique enables the researchers to suppress the neuron’s activity using pulses of light.

3D rendering of a molecule
Autism and Congenital Heart Disease Share Underlying Molecular Network

A recent study of gene networks may hold some promising clues about shared mechanisms underlying autism spectrum disorder and congenital heart disease, two physiologically distinct disorders that often co-occur.

Image of brain and DNA strands
Genomic Data From More Than 41,000 People Shed New Light on Bipolar Disorder

In the largest genome-wide association study of bipolar disorder to date, researchers found about twice as many genetic locations associated with bipolar disorder as reported in previous studies. These and other findings help improve our understanding of the biological origins of bipolar disorder.

line drawing illustration of human brain
Mapping ‘Imbalance’ in Brain Anatomy Across the Lifespan

Researchers in the NIMH Intramural Research Program have developed a new way to measure the degree to which the proportions of an individual person’s brain differ from the proportions typically seen in the broader population. This technique yields new insights into brain development and offers tools for further study.

artistic illustration of a molecular structure
Genetic Variations Highlight the Importance of Metabolic Processes in Anorexia

The need to identify effective targets for intervention in anorexia nervosa is pressing, as patient outcomes are often poor. An NIMH-funded genome-wide association study suggests that metabolic processes may play an important role in the disorder, offering a promising new avenue for investigation.

Image showing immunofluorescence of fear-acquisition tagged neurons in the dentate gyrus during spontaneous recovery. Credit: Springer Nature; Lacagnina et al. 2019
Brain Processes Underlying the Extinction and Reactivation of Fear Memories

In a study published in 2019 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health investigated the neurobiological changes that occur in the brain circuits of mice when contextual fear memories — fear of a place where an aversive event occurred — are formed and extinguished.

This image shows double-helix DNA strands.
Large-Scale Genetics Study Sheds Light on Developmental Origins of Autism

Researchers were able to identify different types of rare genetic variations associated with autism spectrum disorder by analyzing data shared via the NIMH-funded Autism Sequencing Consortium.