New technologies are allowing us to explore the brain as never before. We are entering a new era in neuroscience where our knowledge of the brain is beginning to match the urgent need to prevent and treat diseases of the brain.


Molecular Psychiatry

New clues why gold standard treatment for bipolar disorder doesn’t work for majority of patients

Lithium is considered the gold standard for treating bipolar disorder (BD), but nearly 70 percent of people with BD don’t respond to it. Now, Salk Professor and President Rusty Gage, co-first authors Renata Santos and Shani Stern, co-corresponding author Carol Marchetto, and colleagues have found that decreased activation of a gene called LEF1 disrupts ordinary neuronal function and promotes hyperexcitability in brain cells—a hallmark of BD. The work could result in a new drug target for BD as well as a biomarker for lithium nonresponsiveness

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When it comes to feeling pain, touch or an itch, location matters

When you touch a hot stove, your hand reflexively pulls away; if you miss a rung on a ladder, you instinctively catch yourself. Both motions take a fraction of a second and require no forethought. Professor Martyn Goulding, first author Graziana Gatto and colleagues have mapped the physical organization of cells in the spinal cord that help mediate these and similar critical “sensorimotor reflexes.” The new blueprint of this aspect of the sensorimotor system could lead to a better understanding of how it develops and can go awry in conditions such as chronic itch or pain.

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