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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Science News from 2021

illustration of human brain seen from above
Brain Activity Patterns After Trauma May Predict Long-Term Mental Health

The way a person’s brain responds to stress following a traumatic event, such as a car accident, may help to predict their long-term mental health outcomes, according to NIMH-supported research.

A central circle with multiple colored patches inside. The colored patches represent a visualization of the mouse MOp transcriptomic taxonomy. Surrounding the central circle are pictures of various types of neurons in colors that coordinate with the patches used in the central circle (pinks on left and greens and blues on the right). Interspersed with the images of the neurons are spike graphs showing neuron electrophysiological profiles. (Credit: Tolias/Nature)
NIH BRAIN Initiative Unveils Detailed Atlas of the Mammalian Primary Motor Cortex

The NIH Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN) has unveiled an atlas of cell types and an anatomical neuronal wiring diagram for the mammalian primary motor cortex, derived from detailed studies of mice, monkeys, and humans.

 A high-powered black and white microscope image showing exosomes, nanosized parts of cells. (Credit: Surya Shrivastava / City of Hope
Researchers Use Exosome-Based Strategy to Block HIV in Mice

In this NIMH-funded study, researchers used exosomes to deliver novel protein into the cells of mice infected with HIV. The protein attached to HIV’s genetic material and prevented it from replicating, resulting in reduced levels of HIV in the bone marrow, spleen, and brain.

Headshot of Dr. Anna Ordóñez
Anna E. Ordóñez Named Director of NIMH’s Office of Clinical Research

NIMH has selected Anna E. Ordóñez, M.D., M.A.S., as director of the Office of Clinical Research (OCR).

a teen girl sits with her elbows propped, resting her chin on her folded hands.
Eating Disorder Behaviors Alter Reward Response in the Brain

A new NIMH-supported study found that eating disorder behaviors alter the brain’s reward response process and food intake control circuitry, which can reinforce the behaviors.

abstract artwork made of wide lines
Acting National Autism Coordinator Named

National Autism Coordinator Ann E. Wagner, Ph.D., will retire from federal service on June 30, 2021—Susan A. Daniels, Ph.D., will serve as Acting National Autism Coordinator beginning on July 1, 2021, and until a permanent successor is named.

mom holding baby, talking to doctor
Media Advisory: Prototype App for Mobile Devices Could Screen Children at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder

A mobile app was successful at distinguishing toddlers diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from typically developing toddlers based on their eye movements while watching videos, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Andrea Beckel-Mitchener, Ph.D.
NIMH’s Dr. Andrea Beckel-Mitchener Named Deputy Director of NIH BRAIN Initiative

Andrea Beckel-Mitchener, Ph.D., has been named deputy director of the trans-NIH Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

National Institute of Mental Health
NIMH Director’s Statement: Our Commitment to Ending Structural Racism in Biomedical Research

In this statement, NIMH Director Dr. Joshua Gordon reaffirms his commitment to dismantling structural racism in biomedical research and describes next steps for NIMH.

illustration of connected neurons
New Experiences Enhance Learning by Resetting Key Brain Circuit

A study of spatial learning in mice shows that exposure to new experiences dampens established representations in the brain’s hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, allowing the mice to learn new navigation strategies.

a young woman looks pensively out a window
Study Identifies Risk Factors for Elevated Anxiety in Young Adults During COVID-19 Pandemic

A new study has identified early risk factors that predicted heightened anxiety in young adults during the coronavirus pandemic.

Illustration of DNA double helix
Gene Readouts Contribute To Distinctness of Mental Disorders

A new study conducted by researchers at NIMH suggests that differences in the expression of gene transcripts – readouts copied from DNA that help maintain and build our cells – may hold the key to understanding how mental disorders with shared genetic risk factors result in different patterns of onset, symptoms, course of illness, and treatment responses.

Teen girl looking off into the distance
Adaptive Screener May Help Identify Youth at Risk of Suicide

In a study supported by NIMH, researchers have developed a computerized adaptive screener that can help identify youth at risk for attempting suicide.