DOCTOR'S VIEW ARCHIVE
Antidepressant Action Requires New Neurons
Background: The antidepressant medications available today include the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (Prozac) which figures into this research. The hippocampus is part of the olfactory cortex, that part of the cerebral cortex essential to the sense of smell, and is known to help regulate emotion and memory. The hippocampus is so-called because its shape suggests that of a seahorse. From the Greek hippos (horse) + kampos (a sea monster).
The Gist: "We have known that antidepressants influence the birth of neurons in the hippocampus. Now it appears that this effect may be important for the clinical response (to antidepressants)." (Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health)
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Creation of New Neurons Critical to Antidepressant Action in Mice
Blocking the formation of neurons in the hippocampus blocks the behavioral effects of antidepressants in mice, say researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Their finding lends new credence to the proposed role of such neurogenesis in lifting mood. It also helps to explain why antidepressants typically take a few weeks to work, note Rene Hen, Ph.D., Columbia University, and colleagues, who report on their study in the August 8th Science.