Prof. Ming-Hu Han, associate professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, gave a talk entitled “Midbrain Dopamine Circuit Mediates Anxiety-Related Behaviors” on 25 October 2019, which was organized by the Centre for Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Institute of Collaborative Innovation. At the talk, Prof. Han introduced the circumstances that anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illness afflicting 273 million people worldwide and the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders are highly complex.

Prof. Han shared his team’s study that they took advantage of the repeated social defeat stress (RSDS) mouse model that induces anxiety or mixed anxiety/depression phenotypes in separate subgroups of mice to investigate neural mechanisms regulating these behaviors. Following RSDS, mice were labeled as anxiety/depression (A/D) and anxiety (A) subgroups. Numerous studies have implicated the role of ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine (DA) subcircuits in anxiety and depression. Utilizing neural circuit-probing techniques, they found that the firing activity of VTA neurons projecting to the amygdala (VTA-AMG) dramatically decreased in both A/D and A mice. Additionally, using in vivo calcium imaging in freely moving mice, they correlated VTA-AMG circuit activity with the expression of anxiety phenotype but not depressive-related phenotype. Finally, Prof. Han Ming-Hu concluded that they further demonstrated the causal link between the firing maladaptations in VTA-AMG subcircuit and anxiety phenotype. Their findings support that the VTA-AMG circuit may play a crucial role in mediating the anxiety-like behaviors observed in both A/D and A mice following RSDS. The lecture attracted many students interested in the related discipline. During the Q&A session, the speaker and participants exchanged ideas and had fruitful discussions.

Prof. Ming-Hu Han delivered his talk

Q & A session