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Serotonin helps the brain to make the right decision in case of emergency

Posted 2019.02.01 16:58:37CET

Madrid, 1 (EUROPA PRESS) –

Serotonin neurons, known for their role in depression relief, can help the brain to perform instantaneous and appropriate behaviors in emergency situations, according to a study from the University of Cornell (United States) ) published in the journal & # 39; Science & # 39;

The researchers studied patterns of brain activity in mice. If a mouse was experiencing a threat, the serotoninergic neurons of the Rage's dorsal core were fired. But when there was a calm and positive atmosphere, they activated during pauses in active behavior.

"This change really surprised us. It was our first track that something really weird could be happening in the brain in emergency situations," explains the lead author, Melissa Warden, assistant professor and member of the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior of this American University.

In emergency situations of fight or flight, the behavioral options are different from the decisions that an animal can take in less critical situations. For example, if a mouse is sitting in the middle of an exposed field and a hawk spy it for food, the mouse can see that the hawk begins to jump and the mouse's survival instinct tells him which is executed.

"But if the hawk is flying over his head and he has not seen the mouse, but the mouse has seen the hawk, the mouse stays still to avoid being detected. In this situation, staying quiet is better decision of # 39. ; try to escape, because the probabilities of survival are greater, "the researcher says.

In situations of high threat, serotoninergic neurons provoke encouragement to escape. In environments of less threat, the stimulation involves pausing. "Therefore, stimulating the serotonin neurons is probably promoting the appropriate response to the context. It can cause animals to react to their environment, to do whatever is appropriate according to their situation," says Warden.

As in a control center, serotonin sends signals throughout the brain. Understanding how this system causes different behaviors in different environments can make light on the role of other systems in the brain. "Given the widespread distribution of serotonin neurons throughout the brain, this finding raises the possibility that the emergence brain will work fundamentally differently," he says.

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