Light-activated neurons and ketamine can help treat depression
By Liat Clark 15 October 12
Photograph Courtesy of Wired
A “light switch” for turning on and off depression and the use of ketamine as a nerve connection recovery drug were the research highlights of an annual neuroscience conference held this October.
The studies were presented at Neuroscience 2012, the annual meeting of theSociety for Neuroscience, which this year focused on advances in post-traumatic stress disorder research pertaining to a growing body of work that says damage to neural circuitry is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to depression.
First up, a team of neuroscientists working at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have discovered a way to genetically engineer a “light switch” in mice brains that turns depressive behaviours on and off using light-activated dopamine-producing neurons. Dopamine levels are known to be linked to depression, but this is the first time optogenetics rather than drugs have been used to control levels.