Matt Cooper received 3-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health
Congratulations to Matt Cooper who received a 3-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. The funded research project is focused on identifying the brain regions and cellular mechanisms by which social experience enhances coping and resilience and is titled, “Neural circuits controlling resiliency in dominant animals.” The project is funded from June 2016 through May 2019 for $453,000.
Here is a brief description of the funded study:
Exposure to stressful events is a key factor in the etiology of several mood and anxiety disorders. However, not all individuals exposed to stressful events develop stress-related mental illness, and there is considerable interest in what makes some individuals vulnerable and others resilient. In this project, we will investigate the neurobiological mechanisms controlling resistance to social stress in Syrian hamsters. We will test whether maintenance of dominance relationships generates plasticity in specific neural circuits that promotes resistance to social stress in dominant, but not subordinate, hamsters. Specifically, we will determine whether vulnerability to social stress is regulated by the activity of select neurons within the medial prefrontal cortex that send axonal projections to brain regions such as the amygdala and dorsal raphe nucleus. Overall, this research project is focused on identifying the brain regions and cellular mechanisms by which social experience may enhance coping and resilience. Ultimately, this line of research should improve our understanding of the mechanisms by which non-pharmacological treatments enhance prevention and accelerate recovery from stress-related mental illness.