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Boosting glutamate reduces anxiety in monkeys

February 04, 2019

Researchers studying male and female marmosets have homed in on the primate brain circuitry responsible for individual differences in overall anxiety. Their findings, published in JNeurosci, show that increasing levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate in the hippocampus normalizes anxious monkeys' "fight or flight" response.

Previous human and animal studies suggest roles for glutamate, the hippocampus, and two prefrontal brain regions -- known as area 25 and area 32 -- in the behavioral and physiological response to threat. However, the contribution and interaction of these neural components in highly anxious primates is unclear.

Hannah Clarke and colleagues were able to make anxious monkeys more comfortable with an unfamiliar human, who wore different masks to conceal his or her identity, by increasing glutamate release in the anterior hippocampus. In response to an unexpected loud sound, increased hippocampal glutamate was associated with increased blood pressure, heart rate, and scanning of the environment -- all of which are part of a typical threat response and reduced in anxious individuals. These effects depended on functioning of area 25, implicating this brain region and its connection to the hippocampus as a promising target for reducing anxiety.
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Article: Glutamate within the marmoset anterior hippocampus interacts with area 25 to regulate the behavioral and cardiovascular correlates of high-trait anxiety

DOI: https://www.jneurosci.org/lookup/doi/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2451-18.2018

Corresponding author: Hannah Clarke (University of Cambridge, UK), hfc23@cam.ac.uk

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

Society for Neuroscience

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