Absence of Serotonin May Alter Brain Development, Function

First Posted: Dec 25, 2015 02:46 PM EST

Absence of serotonin alters brain development and function, according to a new study.

"Our goal in the project was to close the gap in knowledge that exists on role of serotonin in the brain cortex, particularly as it concerns brain circuitry, its electrical activity and function," said Roberto Fernández Galán, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "For the first time, we can provide a complete description of an animal model from genes to behavior--including at the level of neuronal network activity, which has been ignored in most studies to date."

Previous studies have linked serotonin abnormalities to autism, anxiety, depression and even epilepsy.

During the study, researchers used high-density multi-electrode arrays in a mouse model of serotonin deficiency to both record and analyzed neuronal activity.

The study focuses on the importance of serotonin, which is specified and maintained by a specific gene known as the Pet-1 gene; this gene helps keep up with normal functioning of the neurons, synapses and networks in the cortex. It also helps with the proper development of brain circuity.

"By looking at the circuit level of the brain, we now have new insight into how the brain becomes wired and sensitive to changing serotonin levels." added Dr. Galán.

The study is published in the Journal of Neurophysiology.

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