Certainty is the cage that keeps us safe from curiosity. I've been released from the cage. I am the songbird and I am flying for the window. I know it's closed but I plan on breaking through. – Charlie Coté, Jr. (1987-2005)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Zebrafish on the Anxious Brain

Scientists recently discovered that disrupting a specific set of neurons in the habenula prevents normal response to stressful situations. The habenular nuclei have been shown to be involved in many functions, including pain processing, reproductive behavior, nutrition, sleep-wake cycles, stress responses, and learning.
Scientists trained larval zebrafish to swim away from a light in order to avoid a mild electric shock. Fish with a specific set of neurons in the habenula that are damaged displayed signs of "helplessness," and showed indications that they were more anxious than normal fish, being startled easily by non-harmful stimuli. The zebrafish brain is similar to the mammalian brain, suggesting  that malfunction of the habenula is a possible cause of certain anxiety disorders in humans.

It may be possible to use direct stimulation of the habenula as a way of treating some types of anxiety disorders in humans.

So I guess looking at fish really does relieve stress.

(Source: SiFy News, based on a study was published in the journal Current Biology.)


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