Anxiety reduction chemical identified

“We hope our finding will help pave the way for developing more selective treatments for anxiety disorders,” says Janet Menard, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology.

Dr. Menard’s team found that increasing levels of the brain chemical Neuropeptide-Y (NPY) in an area of the brain known as the lateral septum reduces the normal anxiety responses that occur in stressful situations. This discovery suggests that drugs selectively targeting NPY receptors in the brain could be more effective in treating anxiety than current treatment options and be less prone to abuse.

Dr. Menard’s new anxiety regulation findings were published in a recent issue of Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behaviour.

Other groundbreaking research by researchers in the Behavioural Neuroscience group at Queen’s Department of Psychology includes:

Richard Beninger, Head of Psychology – the role played by particular brain chemicals in the control of normal behaviour and in disorders such as schizophrenia and drug addiction.

Cella Olmstead – recently pinpointed the area of the brain that controls impulsive behavior and identified mechanisms that affect how impulsive behavior is learned.

Hans Dringenberg – how our brains develop during early life and how they continue to adapt and store new information.

Niko Troje – the function behind the head-bobbing behavior frequently observed in pigeons and other birds.

These brain, behavior and cognition researchers are supported by funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and have recently benefited from laboratory renovations and infrastructure enhancements facilitated by an equipment grant from the federal funding agency.