A map tracking the activity of serotonin in the human brain could revolutionize the targeted use of antidepressants and behavioral therapy for people suffering from mental illnesses.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and it is often regarded by scientists as the chemical responsible for maintaining mood balance. A deficit of serotonin leads to depression. However, researchers lack a deeper understanding of how it affects different mood disorders.
Dr Jeremiah Cohen, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute in Baltimore, told The Guardian about the importance of serotonin: “The ultimate aim is to understand the biology of mood and how groups of cells in the brain connect to produce our emotional behavior.
“Most antidepressants operate broadly in the entire serotonin system. What we hope to do with this map is use drugs that are available or design new drugs that will target only the components of that system relevant to a particular disorder.”
Researchers hope that by understanding the biology of serotonin, drugs can be created that only target cells relevant to a particular disorder.