Dopaminergic Circuit Principles Underlying Depression Susceptibility

Project: Research project

Project Details


Depression takes a massive toll on our people. It is among the most common mental disorders and carries an incredibly high burden of disability. In 2015, more than 16 million US adults suffered at least one major depressive episode. The World Health Organization estimates that major depression accounts for 8.3% of all US years lived with disability. However, the distribution of this disability burden is spread unevenly. Among the risk factors: women suffer from depression at higher rates than men, and those that experience early life trauma such as abuse, neglect, or the loss of a parent are at very high risk. Yet not every individual in a high- risk population actually develops depression. Indeed, some individuals display extraordinary resilience. What makes some people susceptible to depressive episodes and others resilient? This project will explore the neural circuit basis of depression susceptibility using mice as a model system. Mice of both sexes will be exposed to varying early life experiences, then tested for depression resilience. Using cutting edge neural circuit imaging techniques, we will then be able to ask whether the strength of specific brain connections in each individual subject is predictive of that subject’s depression resilience. We will confirm our results by manipulating the brain connections identified to determine whether they are truly sufficient to sculpt depressive behavior. Through these studies, we will learn whether sex and early life experience interact to control the development of neural circuits involved in depression, develop a better understanding of what brain changes make an individual truly high risk, and be better prepared to design new depression treatments tailored to specific problems in an individual’s brain.
Effective start/end date1/15/181/14/20


  • Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (NARSAD 26429)


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.