Why depressed animals are a reason to celebrate

Washington State University researchers have taken a promising step toward creating an animal model for decoding the specific brain circuits involved in depression. By electrically stimulating a brain region central to an animal’s primary emotions, graduate student Jason Wright and his advisor Jaak Panksepp saw rats exhibit a variety of behaviors associated with a depressed, negative mood, or affect.

“We might now have a model that allows us to actually know where to look in the brain for changes relevant to depression, and we can monitor how activity in these regions change during states of negative affect and the restoration of positive affect,” says Wright. “There are no other models out there like this.”

The researchers caution that their work comes with a variety of caveats and that there are still many factors that need to be evaluated.

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