A researcher at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) has secured a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study how certain brain cells respond to chronic stress. The project is estimated to receive $1.6 million over five years and could help to identify breakthrough treatments for clinical depression, which affects more than 260 million people worldwide.
Dopamine, often referred to as "the motivation molecule," is released from nerve cells when the brain anticipates a certain reward, signaling it to command behaviors that ensure a pleasant experience or avoid harm. When the brain associates a behavior with this reward, dopamine is also released in future scenarios, reinforcing the behavior. This habit-forming cycle, known as the reward system, motivated prehistoric humans to perform activities that met their daily needs, such as finding food. Today, dopamine signaling is often suppressed in patients with clinical depression, suggesting that dopamine imbalance causes certain behavioral symptoms, including lack of motivation. However, little is known about how the brain regulates dopamine.
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