Positive emotional learning induces resilience to depression: A role for NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic plasticity

Jeffrey Burgdorf*, Elizabeth M. Colechio, Patric Stanton, Jaak Panksepp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Positive emotions have been shown to induce resilience to depression and anxiety in humans, as well as increase cognitive abilities (learning, memory and problem solving) and improve overall health. In rats, frequency modulated 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations (Hedonic 50-kHz USVs) reflect a positive affective state and are best elicited by rough-and-tumble play. Methods: The effect of positive affect induced by rough-and tumble play was examined on models of depression and learning and memory. The molecular and pharmacological basis of play induced positive affect was also examined. Results: Rough-and-tumble play induced Hedonic 50-kHz USVs, lead to resilience to depression and anxiety, and facilitation of learning and memory. These effects are mediated, in part, by increased NMDAR expression and activation in the medial prefrontal cortex. Conclusions: We hypothesize that positive affect induces resilience to depression by facilitating NMDAR-dependent synaptic plasticity in the medial prefrontal cortex. Targeting MPFC synaptic plasticity may lead to novel treatments for depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-10
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent neuropharmacology
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Positive affect
  • Rat
  • Resilience
  • Rough-and-tumble play
  • Stress
  • Ultrasonic vocalizations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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