Scientists find "anxiety cells" in mice brains



Scientists recently found what they called "anxiety cells" in the brains of mice, raising hopes to better treat anxiety disorders among human beings, according to media reports.

The study published in the journal Neuron was done by a team of scientists from the University of California, San Francisco and Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center.

The team placed the mice in a maze that contained some wider open spaces. When the mice entered those open areas, the team observed signs of anxiety since the cells at the bottom of the hippocampus were becoming more active.

It then used a biological technique called optogenetics to change the level of activity in those cells.

The results showed that when the level of activity in the cells was reduced, the mice became less anxious and more willing to wander the open spaces of the maze, and vice versa.

"If we can learn enough, we can develop the tools to turn on and off the key players that regulate anxiety in people," said Joshua Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, during an interview with National Public Radio.