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Science News About Basic Research

Brain’s Alertness Circuitry Conserved Through Evolution

Press Release

Using a molecular method likely to become widely adopted by the field, researchers have discovered brain circuitry essential for alertness – and for brain states more generally.

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NIH BRAIN Initiative Builds on Early Advances

Press Release

NIH has announced funding for 110 new awards totaling $169 million for the BRAIN Initiative.

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NIH BRAIN Initiative Launches Cell Census

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The NIH today launched a major effort to discover and catalog the brain’s “parts list.”

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NIH Completes Atlas of Human DNA Differences that Influence Gene Expression

Science Update

NIH researchers have completed an atlas documenting how DNA influence human gene expression.

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NIMH Releases Strategic Research Priorities Update

Institute Update

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) recently released its second annual update of the Strategic Research Priorities.

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Depression’s “Transcriptional Signatures” Differ in Men vs. Women

Science Update

Brain gene expression associated with depression differed markedly between men and women. Such divergent “transcriptional signatures” may signal divergent underlying illness processes requiring sex-specific treatments.

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Breakthrough Method Yields Trove of Neuron Subtypes, Gene Regulators

Science Update

Scientists have discovered a trove of neuronal subtypes by identifying their unique epigenomic signatures.

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Our Brains Harbor “Residual Echo” of Neanderthal Genes

Science Update

Researchers have produced the first direct evidence that parts of our brains implicated in mental disorders may be shaped by a “residual echo” from our ancient past. The more a person’s genome carries genetic vestiges of Neanderthals, the more certain parts of his or her brain and skull resemble those of humans’ evolutionary cousins that went extinct 40,000 years ago.

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Webinar: RDoC - Fear & Anxiety: From Mechanisms to Implementation

Institute Update

This November 2016 RDoC webinar highlights the role of fear and anxiety in disorders such as phobias and depression.

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Scientists Replay Movie Encoded in DNA

Press Release

For the first time, a primitive movie has been encoded in – and then played back from – DNA in living cells. It’s a major step toward a “molecular recorder” that may someday reveal secrets of the developing brain.

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NIH Names Winners of “Follow that Cell” Phase 2 Competition

Press Release

Two biological engineering researchers are winners in Phase 2 of NIH’s Follow that Cell Challenge. The winners will share $400,000 in prizes awarded for development of new tools and methods for predicting the behavior and function of a single cell in complex tissue over time – and how that reflects the health of the tissue.

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Brain Circuit Tweak Wins Her Affection (if she’s a vole)

Science Update

For the first time, neuroscientists have boosted a female rodent’s partnering with a male by stimulating connectivity of a brain reward circuit. Understanding the circuitry of such affiliative behaviors may lead to improved treatments for social impairment in severe mental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder.

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Connections Strengthen Within Specialized Networks as Brain’s Executive Function Matures

Science Update

As we grow up, our brain’s specialized networks become more structurally segregated, contributing to improved executive functioning. These densely interconnected “modules” process information for key functions that underlie development of mental control and self-regulation.

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NIMH Grantee Wins One of Science’s Most Coveted Prizes

Science Update

NIMH grantee Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D., of Stanford University, has been awarded one of science’s most generous prizes. A German foundation presented the inventor of technologies that are transforming neuroscience with its 4 million euros Fresenius Prize.

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NIMH to Host Multimodal Brain Stimulation Speaker Series

Science Update

Beginning May 31, 2017, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will launch a speaker series intended to bring together leaders in the field conducting research using non-invasive brain stimulation and functional imaging including EEG, fMRI, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

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Brain “Relay” Also Key to Holding Thoughts in Mind

Press Release

Long overlooked as a mere “relay,” an egg-like structure in the middle of the brain also turns out to play a pivotal role in tuning-up thinking circuity. A trio of studies in mice are revealing that the thalamus sustains the ability to distinguish categories and hold thoughts in mind. It might even become a target for interventions for psychiatric disorders marked by working memory problems, such as schizophrenia.

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Human Forebrain Circuits Under Construction – in a Dish

Press Release

Neuroscientists have created a 3D window into the human brain’s budding executive hub assembling itself during a critical period in prenatal development.

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Potential Source of HIV Persistence Confirmed

Science Update

Scientists have shown that a class of immune cells not thought to be a primary reservoir for HIV can harbor the virus even following antiretroviral treatment (ART).

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Sleep May Trim Neural Connections to Restore Learning Ability

Science Update

Sleep may be the price we pay for the ability to learn. It streamlines neural connections for optimal efficiency.

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Revealed: LSD Docked in its Human Brain Target

Science Update

Scientists have discovered the molecular structure of LSD in its human brain receptor.

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Two NIMH Grantees Receive Prestigious Presidential Award

Science Update

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) congratulates two NIMH grantees, Mary Kay Lobo from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Eric Morrow from Brown University, who are among the 102 scientists and researchers receiving the 2017 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

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NIMH Training Grant Recipient Wins Research Prize

Science Update

NIMH training grant recipient Neir Eshel was named the 2016 Grand Prize winner of the Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists for research related to the cellular basis of learning.

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Molecular Tool Parses Social Fear Circuit Intertwined with Aggression Hub

Science Update

A genetic engineering tool has disentangled seemingly hopelessly intertwined brain circuits for social fear and aggression in mice.

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Worldwide Study Seeks to Unlock the Brain’s Genetic Code

Science Update

Big data pinpoints genetic variation linked to brain volume and risk for disorders.

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NIMH’s Karen F. Berman, M.D. elected to National Academy of Medicine

Press Release

At its annual meeting for 2016, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) announced the election of 79 regular members, including the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH Karen F. Berman, M.D. One of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, election to the Academy recognizes outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

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NIH Nearly Doubles Investment in BRAIN Initiative Research

Press Release

NIH’s third round of grants to support the goals of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative total just over $150 million.

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NIMH Releases Strategic Research Priorities Update

Science Update

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) recently released updates to its Strategic Research Priorities.

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How “Quickly Forgotten” Early Life Experiences Mature the Brain

Science Update

Brain memory circuitry’s keen sensitivity to experience during an early critical period enables long-term memory ability to develop through practice.

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NIMH Grantees Named Recipients of Prestigious Kavli Prize

Science Update

Three NIMH grantees have been named recipients of the 2016 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience.

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Connectome Map More Than Doubles Human Cortex’s Known Regions

Press Release

Researchers have mapped 180 distinct areas on our brain’s cortex — more than twice the number previously known.

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Human Connectome Project Marks its First Phase

Press Release

Studies based on a database made available by the Human Connectome Project’s first phase reveal that an individual’s brain connectivity can predict his or her behavior.

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Secrets to Our Smarts Hidden in the Folds of Our Cortex

Science Update

The more folding in the thinking parts of our brain, the smarter we are – to a degree.

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Distractible Mice Offer Clues to Attention Deficit

Science Update

A recent NIMH-funded study sheds new light on how the brain’s processing of sensory information, a key impairment in autism and ADHD, can affect higher level cognitive functions, such as attention and decision making.

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Circuit for Experience-Informed Decision-Making ID’d in Rats

Press Release

Scientists have discovered secrets of how the brain recalls experiences of being in a particular location in making informed choices.

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A BRIGHT Technological Future for Mental Health Trials

Science Update

Is mobile mental health research the next frontier for smartphones? Based on Dr. Patricia Areán’s pioneering BRIGHTEN study, research via smartphone app is already a reality.

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Experimental Combination Surprises with Anti-HIV Effectiveness

Science Update

A compound developed by NIH-supported scientists to protect the nervous system from HIV surprised researchers by augmenting the effectiveness of an investigational antiretroviral drug beyond anything expected.

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Circuit Tweak Boosts Social Memory in Mice

Science Update

Researchers have boosted the staying power of a social memory at least 80-fold by stimulating a circuit they discovered in mouse brain.

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Biomarker for Brain Excitability May Help Track Medication Effect

Science Update

NIMH scientists have recently discovered a link between order in the activity of neurons in the brain and excitability—how likely it is that individual neurons will “fire”— which may provide a means for monitoring treatment of conditions like epilepsy that would be less invasive and thus more versatile than current methods

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NIH-supported NeuroBioBank Joins Autism BrainNet in Brain Donation Initiative

Press Release

Two of the world’s largest brain tissue banks unify efforts to collect and distribute a critical number of brain donations for important autism research.

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Blog, Video Spotlight NIMH Neuroscience Trainee

Science Update

A recent NIH Director’s Blog and Lab TV video feature a young neuroscientist whose discoveries as a graduate student – about a key maternal behavior – were supported, in part, by a NIMH training grant.

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Embracing the SPIRIT of reducing suicide

Science Update

NIMH, NIH, and the National Institute of Justice are collaborating on a 4-year, $6.8 million study called Suicide Prevention for at-Risk Individuals in Transition or “SPIRIT.” The study focuses on the high-risk individuals who are transitioning from jail to community. SPIRIT is NIMH’s first major investment in suicide prevention in the justice system.

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Psychosis Treatment Program Expands in New York

Science Update

New York expanded OnTrackNY, a treatment program for youth with psychosis which is an offshoot of one of the two NIMH-funded Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) studies.

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Webinar Series – Office for Research on Disparities and Global Mental Health

Science Update

View the archived webinars with NIMH experts and grantees, which focus on training, research, and methodology

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Boys More Likely to Have Antipsychotics Prescribed, Regardless of Age

Press Release

Boys are more likely than girls to receive an antipsychotic prescription regardless of age, according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

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Study May Help Department of Veterans Affairs Find Patients with High Risk of Suicide

Press Release

Scientists used health data to identify very small groups of VHA patients with very high, predicted suicide risk. Such methods can help the VHA to target suicide prevention efforts for patients at high risk, and may have more wide-ranging benefits.

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A Patient’s Budding Cortex -- in a Dish?

Press Release

Scientists have perfected mini cultured 3-D structures that grow and function much like the outer mantle – the key working tissue, or cortex – of the brain of the person from whom they were derived.

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Souped-up Remote Control Switches Behaviors On-and-off in Mice

Press Release

Neuroscientists have perfected a chemical-genetic remote control for brain circuitry and behavior.

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Brain Circuitry for Positive vs Negative Memories Discovered in Mice

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Neuroscientists have discovered brain circuitry for encoding positive and negative learned associations in mice.

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A New Look at Racial/Ethnic Differences in Mental Health Service Use Among Adults

Science Update

New report on mental health service use among racial/ethnic groups

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New NIMH Strategic Plan Aims to Focus, Accelerate Mental Health Research

Press Release

New NIMH Strategic Plan balances the need for long-term investments in basic research with urgent mental health needs.

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NIH Announces Follow that Cell Challenge Finalists

Press Release

NIH has selected 5 prize winners and 11 finalists in Phase 1 of its Follow that Cell Challenge, which aims to develop new ways to predict the behavior and function of a single cell in complex tissue over time.

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Brain Recalls Old Memories via New Pathways

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Brain retrieval circuitry shifts as fear memory ages

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Seeking Single Cells’ Secrets

Press Release

NIH has awarded grants totaling $7.9 million in 2014 to 25 research teams who are unraveling the workings of single cells.

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Soldiers at Increased Suicide Risk after Leaving Hospital

Press Release

Soldiers hospitalized with a psychiatric disorder have a higher suicide risk in the year following discharge from the hospital.

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Depression and the Development of Novel Medications

Science Update

NIMH Twitter Chat on Depression and the Development of Novel Medications

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NIH Announces First Wave of Funding for BRAIN Initiative Research

Science Update

Calling it “the beginning of an ambitious journey”, the National Institutes of Health announced its first wave of grants in support of the BRAIN Initiative.

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Magnetic Stimulation Boosts Human Memory, Network Connectivity

Science Update

Scientists have improved memory for associations between faces and words by electromagnetically stimulating neural connections in a brain network.

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Suspect Gene Corrupts Neural Connections

Press Release

Researchers have shown in patients’ cells how a rare mutation in a suspect gene disrupts the expression of dozens of other genes underlying neural connections.

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Follow that Cell

Press Release

The National Institutes of Health is challenging science innovators to compete for prizes totaling up to $500,000, by developing new ways to track the health status of a single cell in complex tissue over time.

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Science Update

NIMH Twitter Chat on Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

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How Might New Neurons Buffer Against Stress?

Science Update

Over the past decade or so, evidence has emerged suggesting that the birth of new neurons in the adult brain’s memory hub, or hippocampus, may play a key role the action of antidepressants, resilience to stress, the benefits of exercise and enriched environments, and preventing memory loss. But understanding how it might work has remained elusive. NIMH researchers in NIH’s new Porter Neuroscience Research Center are following up leads.

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Men and Depression

Science Update

NIMH Twitter Chat on Men and Depression

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Postpartum Depression

Science Update

NIMH Twitter Chat on Postpartum Depression

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Channel Makeover Bioengineered to Switch Off Neurons

Press Release

Scientists have bioengineered an enhancement to a cutting edge technology that provides instant control over brain circuit activity with a flash of light. The research adds the same level of control over switching neurons off that, until now, had been limited to switching them on. What had been working through a weak pump now works through a highly responsive channel -- like going from a squirt to a gushing hose.

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis

Science Update

NIMH Twitter Chat on Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis

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Learn About the Adolescent Brain with Expert Dr. Jay Giedd on May 8!

Science Update

NIMH expert Dr. Jay Giedd will discuss the developing adolescent brain at a community event on May 8. The event will be video archived.

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The 22nd NIMH Conference on Mental Health Services Research

Science Update

The 22nd National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Conference on Mental Health Services Research (MHSR): Research in Pursuit of a Learning Mental Health Care System, will be convened on April 23–25, 2014, at the Natcher Conference Center on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Campus, Bethesda, MD.

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NIH-funded Brain Atlas Offers Clues to Psychiatric Disorders

Press Release

A brain blueprint maps where genes are tuned on and off during mid-pregnancy—when most brain disorders such as autism and schizophrenia occur.

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Most Individuals Receive Health Services a Year Before Suicide Death

Science Update

Undetected suicide risk is a critical issue in primary care. According to a NIMH-funded study published in the February 2014 issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, 83 percent of individuals received health care services in the year prior to suicide death and half did not have a mental health diagnosis.

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Disorganized Cortical Patches Suggest Prenatal Origin of Autism

Press Release

The architecture of the autistic brain is speckled with patches of abnormal neurons, according to research partially funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 27, 2014.

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Brain Region Singled Out for Social Memory, Possible Therapeutic Target for Select Brain Disorders

Science Update

The hippocampus houses learning and memory—specifically the storage of knowledge of who, what, where, and when. Using a special transgenic mouse, researchers have now pinpointed a hippocampal region called CA2 that is important for social memory, the ability of animal to recognize another of the same species. Understanding this region could be useful in understanding and treating disorders characterized by altered social behaviors such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism.

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Suicide in the Military: Army-NIH Funded Study Points to Risk and Protective Factors

Press Release

Although the suicide attempt and death rates in the U.S. Army have been historically below the civilian rate, these rates began climbing in the early 2000s, and by 2008, exceeded those of civilians. A joint study between the Army and NIMH, called Army STARRS, recently released findings that shed light on the problem.

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Eating Disorders

Science Update

NIMH Twitter Chat on Eating Disorders

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NICHD/NIMH Podcast on Youth Violence

Science Update

NIMH/NICHD experts explain what sparks and halts youth violence.

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Transgenic Mice Lines Aid in Brain Circuit Imaging

Science Update

Neuroscientists have generated over 250 genetically engineered mice lines that will help further our understanding of the human brain.

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Depression and Older Adults

Science Update

Join NIMH’s Jovier Evans, Ph.D., Chief of the Geriatric Translational Neuroscience Program, for a Twitter Chat on depression and older adults.

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NIH Directors Discuss Sequestration and Research on C-SPAN

Science Update

Despite facing lean financial times, NIH continues to generate the most bang for the buck regarding research. Tomorrow on C-SPAN Washington Journal, NIH Directors Drs. Collins, Insel, Fauci, Varmus, and Green will field questions from the public pertaining to sequestration and research as well as other topics.

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NeuroBioBank Gives Researchers One-stop Access to Post-mortem Brains

Press Release

The NIH NeuroBioBank provides researchers with one-stop access to post-mortem brains.

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Bullying Prevention

Science Update

NIH experts Drs. Chris Sarampote and Valerie Maholmes discuss bullying prevention.

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NIMH Scientists Honored with 2013 Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Awards

Science Update

Miss the Twitter chat on the teen brain and Brain Awareness Week? Read the transcript.

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Streamlined Method Offers Shortcut to Generating Neurons for Discovery

Science Update

Researchers have found a shortcut to rapidly convert induced human stem cells into healthy neurons for “disease-in-a-dish” discovery – and, ultimately, personalized medicine.

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Three NIH Scientists Elected into IOM

Science Update

NIMH’s Daniel S. Pine, M.D., is one of three NIH scientists elected as members of the prestigious Institute of Medicine.

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NIMH Grantee Receives 2013 Nobel Prize

Science Update

Thomas C. Südhof, M.D., along with James E. Rothman, Ph.D., and Randy W. Schekman, Ph.D., received the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries delineating how a cell organizes its transport system.

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Science/AAAS Google+ Hangout on the Adolescent Brain Featuring NIMH’s Jay Giedd, M.D.

Science Update

NIMH scientist Jay Giedd, M.D. discusses the teen brain with Science/AAAS in a Google+ Hangout.

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Former NIMH Grantee Receives 2013 MacArthur Fellow Award

Science Update

Susan Murphy, Ph.D., a statistician from the University of Michigan and former NIMH grantee, is one of 24 recipients of the MacArthur “Genius” Award.

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Jay Giedd on PBS Documentary “Brains on Trial”

Science Update

NIMH’s Jay Giedd discusses brain scan research with Alan Alda in the two-episode PBS documentary “Brains on Trial.”

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NIMH Grantees Receive 2013 Lasker Award

Science Update

Two National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grantees recently collected the prestigious 2013 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for their meticulous mapping of the molecular mechanisms involved in neurotransmitter release, the process by which the brain send and receives chemical messengers.

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Suicide Prevention

Science Update

To commemorate World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2013, NIMH will host a twitter chat on the topic.

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Introduction to RDoC

Science Update

Bruce Cuthbert, Ph.D., director, NIMH Division of Translational Research and Treatment Development, discusses the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative, which he coordinates.

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Tom Insel Discusses The BRAIN Initiative on The Charlie Rose Brain Series

Science Update

With nearly 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections, the human brain remains one of the greatest mysteries in science and one of the greatest challenges in medicine. NIMH Director Thomas Insel recently went on The Charlie Rose Brain Series to discuss The BRAIN Initiative, which aims to create better tools to solve this mystery.

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Science Update

Learn about post-traumatic stress disorder by joining NIMH’s Farris Tuma for a Twitter chat.

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Twitter Chat on The Teen Brain—NIMH Experts Discuss Brain Awareness Week

Science Update

Miss the Twitter chat on the teen brain and Brain Awareness Week? Read the transcript.

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Differences in On/Off Switches Help Explain How the Human Brain Evolved

Science Update

A recent NIMH-funded study identified small regions of the genome that are uniquely regulated in human neurons, but not in primate neurons. The findings provide insight into human intellectual function and risk for human diseases, including autism and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Leading Neurobiologist Appointed NIMH Scientific Director

Press Release

Renowned neurobiologist Susan Amara recently joined NIMH as scientific director of its intramural research program.

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Switching Off a Specific Brain Region Can Alter Ingrained Habits in Rats

Science Update

Old habits may die hard, but we might be able to turn them off by targeting a specific brain region. Such a discovery could help us find better ways of controlling addiction or certain mental disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder.

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In-sync Brain Waves Hold Memory of Objects Just Seen

Press Release

The brain holds in mind what has just been seen by synchronizing brain waves in a working memory circuit, an animal study suggests. The more in-sync such electrical signals of neurons were in two key hubs of the circuit, the more those cells held the short-term memory of a just-seen object. The new findings may upturn prevailing theories about how working memory works.

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NIH Common Fund Announces Awards for Single Cell Analysis

Press Release

NIH plans to invest more than $90 million over five years to accelerate the development and application of single cell analysis across a variety of fields. The goal is to understand what makes individual cells unique and to pave the way for medical treatments.

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Former NIMH Grantee Wins Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Science Update

Former NIMH grantee Brian K. Kobilka, MD, of Stanford University has won this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He shares the award with Robert J. Lefkowitz of Duke University for explaining the communication system that the human body uses to send messages to cells.

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Awake Mental Replay of Past Experiences Critical for Learning

Press Release

Awake mental replay of past experiences is essential for making informed choices, suggests a study in rats. Without it, the animals’ memory-based decision-making faltered, say scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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Linked Brain Centers Mature in Sync

Science Update

Brain imaging is providing a new picture of how functionally connected parts of the brain develop in sync.

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Turning on Dormant Gene May Hold Key for Correcting a Neurodevelopmental Defect

Science Update

Scientists working in cell culture and in mice have been able to correct the loss of gene activity underlying a rare but severe developmental disorder by turning on a gene that is normally silenced in brain cells.

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Biology, Not Just Society, May Increase Risk of Binge Eating During Puberty

Science Update

Biological changes associated with puberty may influence the development of binge eating and related eating disorders, according to a recent study on female rats conducted by NIMH-funded researchers.

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New Neurons in Adult Brain Buffer Stress

Science Update

New neurons growing in the adult brain help buffer the effects of stress, according to a new study in mice.

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HIV-Infected Astrocytes Disrupt Blood-Brain Barrier, Contribute to Cognitive Impairment

Science Update

Astrocytes, a type of support cell in the brain, that are infected with HIV show abnormal connections and functioning that disrupt the blood-brain barrier, according to an NIMH-funded study.

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Stress-Defeating Effects of Exercise Traced to Emotional Brain Circuit

Science Update

Evidence in both humans and animals points to emotional benefits from exercise, both physical and mental. Now, in recent experiments with mice, scientists have traced the stress-buffering effect of activity to a brain circuit known to be involved in emotional regulation as well as mood disorders and medication effects. The finding is a clue to understanding the neurological roots of resilience, key to developing new means of prevention and treatment for stress-related illness.

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Tired Neurons Caught Nodding Off in Sleep-deprived Rats

Press Release

A new study in rats is shedding light on how sleep-deprived lifestyles might impair functioning without people realizing it. The more rats are sleep-deprived, the more some of their neurons take catnaps – with consequent declines in task performance. Even though the animals are awake and active, brainwave measures reveal that scattered groups of neurons in the thinking part of their brain, or cortex, are briefly falling asleep, scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health have discovered.

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Study Reveals New Clues to How Depression May Develop

Science Update

Activating neurons in a brain structure linked to disappointment increased depression-like behaviors in rats, while suppressing the neurons’ activity reduced the behaviors, according to an NIMH-funded study. The findings help to explain previous research linking this brain structure to depression in humans and highlight a cellular process that hadn’t been previously explored in mood disorders research. The study was published in the February 24, 2011, issue of Nature.

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Enzyme Enhances, Erases Long-term Memories in Rats

Press Release

Even long after it is formed, a memory in rats can be enhanced or erased by increasing or decreasing the activity of a brain enzyme, say researchers supported, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.

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Same Behavior, Different Brain in Adolescent and Adult Rats

Science Update

A study that measured the activity of single cells in the brains of rats found striking differences between adolescents and adults even when both behaved identically on a task motivated by a reward. The finding offers clues to the neurological underpinnings of adolescent behavior and this age group’s vulnerability to mental illness.

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Little-known Growth Factor Enhances Memory, Prevents Forgetting in Rats

Press Release

A naturally occurring growth factor significantly boosted retention and prevented forgetting of a fear memory when injected into rats’ memory circuitry during time-limited windows when memories become fragile and changeable. In the study funded by the National Institutes of Health, animals treated with insulin-like growth factor (IGF-II) excelled at remembering to avoid a location where they had previously experienced a mild shock.

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Transgenic Mouse Offers a Window on Gene/Environment Interplay: Prenatal Infection Alters Behavior in Genetically Vulnerable

Science Update

Experiments in transgenic mice have provided a novel glimpse of how a prenatal infection could interact with a specific gene variant to cause behavioral and neurologic changes in adults that mirror those seen in major psychiatric disease.

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NIMH’s Dr. Mortimer Mishkin to be Awarded National Medal of Science

Press Release

National Institutes of Health intramural researcher Mortimer Mishkin, Ph.D., will be awarded the National Medal of Science at a White House ceremony later this month. Mishkin is chief of the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) Section on Cognitive Neuroscience, and acting chief of its Laboratory of Neuropsychology. He is the first NIMH intramural scientist to receive the medal, which the President presents each year for outstanding contributions to science. Mishkin is among 10 recipients this year.

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NIH launches Genotype-Tissue Expression Project

Press Release

The National Institutes of Health today announced awards to support an initiative to understand how genetic variation may control gene activity and its relationship to disease. Launched as a pilot phase, the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project will create a resource researchers can use to study inherited susceptibility to illness and will establish a tissue bank for future biological studies.

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Drug Substitutes for Training in Rats, Inducing a Memory of Safety

Press Release

Researchers have found a way to pharmacologically induce a memory of safety in the brain of rats, mimicking the effect of training. The finding suggests possibilities for new treatments for individuals suffering from anxiety disorders.

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Novel Model of Depression from Social Defeat Shows Restorative Power of Exercise

Science Update

In a study in a mouse model that mimics the contribution of social stress to human depression, an environment that promotes exercise and exploration alleviated depressive behavior in the mice. The beneficial effect of activity depended on the growth of new neurons in the adult brain.

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Gene’s Impact on Forgetting a Fear-Based Memory Same in Humans and Mice

Science Update

Both humans and mice carrying a variant of a gene that plays a role in memory were slow to learn to forget a fear-based memory. The parallels in gene effects observed in mice and humans in this work means that investigation using the mouse model can provide insights into effects in humans; results may inform treatment approaches to anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

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From Neurons to Thought: Coherent Electrical Patterns Observed Across the Brain

Science Update

Amidst the background hum of electrical signaling generated by neurons in the brain, scientists have found that local groups of neurons, firing in coordination, sometimes create a signal that is mirrored instantaneously and precisely by other groups of neurons across the brain.  These transient episodes of coherence across different parts of the brain may be an electrical signature of thought and actions.

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Behavioral Training Improves Connectivity and Function in the Brain

Press Release

Children with poor reading skills who underwent an intensive, six-month training program to improve their reading ability showed increased connectivity in a particular brain region, in addition to making significant gains in reading, according to a study funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The study was published in the Dec. 10, 2009, issue of Neuron.

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Symptoms in Mice Lacking a Single Receptor Type Mimic the Development of Schizophrenia

Science Update

Deleting one type of neurotransmitter receptor in a specific population of brain cells can induce schizophrenia-like behavior in mice, but only when the receptor is deleted early in development, according to a study by NIMH intramural scientists. The work provides strong support for previous observations implicating these receptors in psychosis; further, the mice provide a model of how psychotic symptoms can arise from a disruption in neuronal development, consistent with observations of how schizophrenia emerges in humans.

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NIH Funds Four Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science

Press Release

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), both part of the National Institutes of Health, today announced grants expected to total approximately $45 million to establish new Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science at the Medical College of Wisconsin and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill as well as to continue support of existing centers at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Southern California.

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NIH Launches the Human Connectome Project to Unravel the Brain’s Connections

Press Release

The National Institutes of Health Blueprint for Neuroscience Research is launching a $30 million project that will use cutting-edge brain imaging technologies to map the circuitry of the healthy adult human brain. By systematically collecting brain imaging data from hundreds of subjects, the Human Connectome Project (HCP) will yield insight into how brain connections underlie brain function, and will open up new lines of inquiry for human neuroscience.

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Much Touted “Depression Risk Gene” May Not Add to Risk After All

Press Release

Stressful life events are strongly associated with a person’s risk for major depression, but a certain gene variation long thought to increase risk in conjunction with stressful life events actually may have no effect, according to researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health. The study, published in the June 17, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, challenges a widely accepted approach to studying risk factors for depression.

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Key Molecule in Inflammation-Related Depression Confirmed

Science Update

Scientists have confirmed the role of an immune-activated enzyme in causing inflammation-related depression-like symptoms in mice.

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New Silvio O. Conte Centers Address Brain Development, Disorders

Science Update

With a mandate to use innovative, multidisciplinary research approaches to address important mental health questions, four newly funded centers have begun investigations of schizophrenia, brain development, and adolescent mood disorders.

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Brain Awareness Week Teaches Kids How Their Brains Work

Press Release

The 10th annual Brain Awareness Week (BAW), a science and health education fair held in various locations across the United States, teaches fifth through eighth grade students about the brain. In Washington, D.C., it will take place March 16-20, 2009, at the National Museum of Health and Medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Several institutes from the National Institutes of Health will provide interactive exhibits and lectures focusing on brain health and neuroscience on March 18th and 19th.

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Brain Scanning Gives Clues to How Genes Shape Behavior, Disease Risk

Science Update

In an experiment in which people viewed changing images of slot machines, inherited differences in brain chemistry predicted the magnitude of responses in the brain to the prospect and receipt of reward.

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Research Shows How Chronic Stress May be Linked to Physical and Mental Ailments

Science Update

While scientists have long known that the levels of certain hormones rise in response to chronic stress, an NIMH study is the first to describe a potential fundamental mechanism for this process.

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Caffeine No Substitute for a Nap to Enhance Memory

Science Update

Hoping to improve your tennis serve? It’s probably better to catch a few winks than load up on java after a lesson, results of a NIMH-supported study suggest.

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Anxious and Depressed Teens and Adults: Same Version of Mood Gene, Different Brain Reactions

Science Update

An NIMH study using brain imaging shows that some anxious and depressed adolescents react differently from adult patients when looking at frightening faces.

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Learning Disability Reversed in Mice

Science Update

Just as traffic signals enable safe traversing of the roadways, so too does the brain’s machinery for learning and memory rely on its own stop-and-go signals.

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Genomic Dragnet Finds Clues to Likely Suspects in Alzheimer’s

Science Update

In the first study of its kind, researchers have pinpointed four genes likely associated with risk for the most common, late-onset form of Alzheimer’s disease, including a very strong candidate on chromosome 14.

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Genes That Turn On Together Hold Secrets of Brain’s Molecular Instructions

Science Update

For the first time, scientists have mapped groups of genes that turn on together in the human brain, revealing a kind of Rosetta Stone of its molecular organization.

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Brain’s Response to Scary Faces Imaged Faster Than You Can Say “Boo!”

Science Update

Scientists have captured the split-second workings of the brain’s fear circuitry in people viewing frightful faces.

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Viral Genetic Underpinnings of HIV-associated Dementia Explored

Science Update

A new study identifies differences between genetic variants of HIV that are associated with HIV-associated dementia (HAD).

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NIMH Funds Nine Innovative Projects to Pursue Major Challenges

Science Update

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has awarded nine exceptionally innovative research projects that hold promise for broad and deep impact on medical science.

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Gene Associated with Social Behavior in Animals Has Similar Effects in Human Males

Science Update

A gene variant related to the hormone vasopressin appears to be associated with how human males bond with their partners or wives, according to an NIMH-funded study.

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NIH Funds Nine Centers to Speed Application of Powerful New Research Approach

Press Release

The funding of a network of nine centers across the country that will use high tech screening methods to identify small molecules for use as probes to investigate the diverse functions of cells was announced today by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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A Night’s Sleep Gives Emotional Memories Their Staying Power

Science Update

For the first time, researchers have found that following a nights sleep, emotional components of scenes are remembered at the expense of neutral components.

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New Grant Supports Stem Cell-Derived Model of Autism-Related Illness

Science Update

For the first time, researchers are developing a test tube model of Rett syndrome, a debilitating autism-like illness, in neurons derived from human embryonic stem cells.

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Mice Expressing Human Genes Bred to Help Unravel Mental Disorders

Science Update

New mouse strains engineered to express human genes related to mental disorders are being developed under a recently-launched grant program from NIMH’s Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science.

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Potential New Target Found for Developing Medications to Treat Bipolar Disorder

Science Update

Medications that target the protein BAG1, which regulates a process that can trigger symptoms in people who have bipolar disorder, may offer a new way of treating the disease, according to NIMH scientists.

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The Maturing Brain Parallels its Evolution

Science Update

Evolutionarily older areas of the human brain that mature earliest follow a simple, straight-line growth pattern.

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One Gene Overrides Another to Prevent Brain Changes that Foster Depression

Science Update

For what appears to be the first time in humans, scientists have detected an interaction between genes that may help prevent brain changes that increase vulnerability to depression.

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Genetic Tags Reveal Secrets of Memories’ Staying Power in Mice

Press Release

A better understanding of how memory works is emerging from a newfound ability to link a learning experience in a mouse to consequent changes in the inner workings of its neurons. Researchers, supported in part by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), have developed a way to pinpoint the specific cellular components that sustain a specific memory in genetically-engineered mice.

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Scans Reveal Faulty Brain Wiring Caused by Missing Genes

Science Update

An NIMH study using an emerging imaging technology has discovered faulty wiring in the brains of people with Williams Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects some aspects of thinking.

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Tomorrow’s Antidepressants: Skip the Serotonin Boost?

Science Update

New research adds to evidence of potentially better molecular targets in the brain to treat depression and other mental disorders, according to NIMH-funded scientists.

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IQ Boost From Breast Milk Linked to Gene-Environment Interaction

Science Update

A new study shows that the intellectual boost associated with breast milk is only attained if a child has inherited one of two versions of a specific gene.

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Schizophrenia-Related Gene Linked to Imbalance in Dopamine Pathways

Science Update

Forms of a gene known to increase risk for schizophrenia may create an imbalance in brain pathways for dopamine, suggests a recent study by NIMH scientists.

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Depression’s Flip Side Shares its Circuitry

Science Update

Humans tend to be overly optimistic about the future, sometimes underestimating risks and making unrealistic plans, notes NIMH grantee Elizabeth Phelps, Ph.D., New York University.

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Researchers Suggest Updating Criteria for HIV-associated Neurocognitive Disorders

Science Update

After 10 years since the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), the criteria for classifying HIV-related neurocognitive disorders may need to be revised and updated, according to a working group designated by NIMH and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to study the issue. The study was published October 30, 2007, in the journal Neurology.

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Memory-sustaining Enzyme May Help Treat PTSD, Cognitive Decline

Science Update

Chemically blocking an enzyme in a specific area in the brain’s cortex, or outer mantle, erased a long-term memory of an aversive event that rats had learned, a study funded in part by NIMH has found.

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New Social Neuroscience Grants to Help Unravel Autism, Anxiety Disorders

Science Update

How genes and the environment shape the brain circuitry underlying social behavior is among the questions being addressed by three newly NIMH-funded studies.

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Bipolar Disorder Phenome Database May Aid Search for Related Genes

Science Update

Early findings from the recently launched Bipolar Disorder Phenome Database were published in the August 2007 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Gene Triggers Obsessive Compulsive Disorder-Like Syndrome in Mice

Press Release

Using genetic engineering, researchers have created an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - like set of behaviors in mice and reversed them with antidepressants and genetic targeting of a key brain circuit. The study, by National Institutes of Health (NIH) -funded researchers, suggests new strategies for treating the disorder.

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New Studies Search for Clues to Mental Illness in Gatekeepers of Gene Expression

Science Update

What goes awry in the brain to cause mental illness may ultimately be traced to glitches in genes - but not necessarily the parts of genes commonly suspected.

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New Technique Pinpoints Crossroads of Depression in Rat Brain

Science Update

NIMH-funded scientists have developed a new high-speed technique for imaging brain activity and used it to pinpoint a circuit signal in rats that may be at the crossroads of depression — a possible “final common pathway” where different causes of, and treatments for, the disorder appear to converge.

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Study Offers Glimpse of Molecules That Keep Memories Alive

Science Update

Working memory is a kind of temporary-storage system in the brain. Unlike long-term memory, it stores disposable information we must keep in mind only transiently, for tasks at hand. But how?

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Genetic Roots of Bipolar Disorder Revealed by First Genome-Wide Study of Illness

Press Release

The likelihood of developing bipolar disorder depends in part on the combined, small effects of variations in many different genes in the brain, none of which is powerful enough to cause the disease by itself, a new study shows.

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Cell Networking Keeps Brain’s Master Clock Ticking

Science Update

Each day, a master clock in the brain synchronizes the timing of lesser clocks in cells throughout the body to the rising and setting of the sun, regulating such daily rhythms as sleep, body temperature, eating, and activity. Scientists funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health have now discovered that the secret to this master clock’s robust time-keeping ability lies in the unique way its cells work together.

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Cortex Area Thinner in Youth with Alzheimer’s-Related Gene

Press Release

A part of the brain first affected by Alzheimer’s disease is thinner in youth with a risk gene for the disorder, a brain imaging study by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has found.

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Gene Knockout Unleashes Manic Mouse

Science Update

Mice engineered to lack a specific gene showed behaviors similar to human mania in a study funded in part by NIMH; they were hyperactive, slept less, appeared less depressed and anxious, and craved sugar, cocaine and pleasure stimulation.

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Scientists Switch Neurons On and Off Using Light

Science Update

Researchers have invented a genetically-engineered way to turn the electrical impulses of brain cells on and off with pulses of blue and yellow light — in synch with the split-second pace of real time neuronal activity.

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Adolescent Brains Show Lower Activity in Areas That Control Risky Choices

Science Update

A new NIMH study could help explain why adolescents are so prone to make risky choices. When contemplating risky decisions, they show less activity in regions of the brain that regulate processes involved in decision-making, compared with adults.

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Tiny, Spontaneous Gene Mutations May Boost Autism Risk

Press Release

Tiny gene mutations, each individually rare, pose more risk for autism than had been previously thought, suggests a study funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health, a component of the National Institutes of Health.

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Virtual-Reality Video Game Helps Link Depression to Specific Brain Area

Science Update

Scientists are using a virtual-reality, three-dimensional video game that challenges spatial memory as a new tool for assessing the link between depression and the hippocampus, the brain’s memory hub.

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Largest-ever Search for Autism Genes Reveals New Clues

Press Release

The largest search for autism genes to date, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has implicated components of the brain’s glutamate chemical messenger system and a previously overlooked site on chromosome 11.

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Common Gene Version Optimizes Thinking — but With a Possible Downside

Press Release

Most people inherit a version of a gene that optimizes their brain’s thinking circuitry, yet also appears to increase risk for schizophrenia, a severe mental illness marked by impaired thinking, scientists at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have discovered.

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Autism Research Efforts Highlighted in Biological Psychiatry Special Issue

Science Update

The February 15, 2007 special issue of Biological Psychiatry is dedicated to recent advances in autism research, including many studies funded by the Institute.

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Brain’s Reward Circuit Activity Ebbs and Flows with a Woman’s Hormonal Cycle

Press Release

Fluctuations in sex hormone levels during women’s menstrual cycles affect the responsiveness of their brains’ reward circuitry, an imaging study at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has revealed.

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New Tests May Help Researchers Detect Genetic Basis For Autism

Science Update

Researchers have developed a set of behavioral tests in mice that mimic the core features of autism and may prove useful in detecting a genetic basis for the deficits in social interactions and rigid thinking seen in the disorder.

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Clues to Making and Breaking Memories Included in List of Year’s Top Science

Science Update

NIMH-funded researchers were cited in Science Magazine’s December 2006 “Breakthrough of the Year” special issue.

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Gene Variant Linked to Schizophrenia

Science Update

A gene implicated in schizophrenia in adults has now also been linked to schizophrenia in children for the first time, strengthening evidence that the gene plays a role in the disease.

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Different Families, Different Characteristics — Different Kinds of Bipolar Disorder?

Science Update

People with bipolar disorder (BPD) tend to share similarities in certain characteristics with other members of their families, NIMH-funded researchers have shown.

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