TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Archive for July 7, 2015

SPEAK OUT! NewsBit . . . . . . . . . . . Depression Reversed in Mice

Depression Reversed in Mice

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

newsboy-thNOTE: This news is especially important for young brain-injury survivors because clinical application may take 10-20 years.

In a major advance in basic research of the brain, neuroscientists were able to reverse depression in mice by activating neurons storing a positive memory. The work was done by a team of brain scientists headed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor and Nobel Laureate, Dr. Susumu Tonegawa. This work on depression extended Dr. Tonegawa’s earlier work, on which I reported previously. The current research was done at the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics.

The experiments were done on mice. (I have previously written why mice are good first models for humans.) Dr. Tonegawa’s team was able to use light to activate cells of the dentate gyrus, a part of the hippocampus – the area of the brain where memories are stored. They also showed that tagging a memory with a positive or negative feeling involved a pathway composed not only of neurons of the dentate gyrus, but also of neurons in two other areas of the brain: the nucleus accumbens and the basolateral amygdala.mouse-clipart-5

(The use of light to activate specific neurons is a powerful and relatively recent method called “optogenetics.” The mice are genetically engineered to allow the neurons that made new memories to be turned on by light. The light is supplied by implanting optical fibers near the desired neurons, in this case in the dentate gyrus of the mouse brain, and shining light from a laser through the fibers.)

When neurons storing a positive memory were light-activated in mice that showed the symptoms of depression, the mice no longer acted depressed. The depression had been reversed by turning on those neurons. Briefly activating the neurons storing a positive memory for five days and then stopping the trigger of activation (light) was also effective in reversing depression. This shows that the positive-memory neurons do not need to be continuously activated.

Current therapeutic drugs for the treatment of depression in humans act on all neurons of the brain. It is hoped that eventually drugs will be designed for specific neurons. Another approach to stimulate specific neurons is to use a kind of “pacemaker” that could be implanted in the brain. Such treatments would have fewer side effects. (Full story)

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” . . . Panel Discussion – “All Disabilities Are Not Visible”

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road”

Panel Discussion – “All Disabilities Are Not Visible”

Panel Members – Catherine (Cat) Brubaker, Julie Kintz, and Juliet Madsen

with Host, Donna O’Donnell Figurski



Donna O’Donnell Figurski

images-1Brain Injury survivors, Catherine (Cat) Brubaker, Julie Kintz, and Juliet Madsen discussed many issues that surround their lives as brain injury survivors who look “normal.”

Cat Brubaker Survivor Panel 070515Cat Brubaker is a two-time traumatic brain injury survivor and the founder of “Hope For Trauma.” Also, in the summer of 2014, Cat rode her recumbent trike Across America (diagonally) to raise awareness for brain injury.

Julie Kintz Survivor Panel 070515When Julie Kintz‘s car went off a cliff in California in 1991, she got a brain injury. Julie is a former Brain Injury Radio Network host.

Juliet Madsen UniformTroop, Juliet Madsen, got her brain injury while serving her country in Iraq. Juliet is a member of the Board of Directors of R4 Alliance and is a master quilter. You can see some of her work at “Stroke of Luck Quilting.”

If you missed this panel discussion about “invisible” brain injury on “Another Fork in the Road” on July 5th, you can listen to the archived show here. Click the link below to listen to Cat, Julie, Juliet, and me.

See you “On the Air!”

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” Panel Discussion – “All Disabilities Are Not Visible”

Click here for a list of all “Another Fork in the Road” shows on the Brain Injury Radio Network.

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