Millennium Nucleus Biology of Neuropsychiatrics Diseases – Numind
Impact Area: Health
Speciality: Nervous system
All our emotions, memories, behaviors and thoughts are based on the interaction of millions of neurons. Communication between them is achieved through chemical messages released by a transmitter neuron, which activates or silences the recipient neuron, in processes known as excitation and inhibition, respectively. The balance between these two processes is key for harmonious brain functioning and therefore, fundamental for a proper execution of routine actions in our lives. But, what happens when this delicate balance is disturbed?
Answering this question is the goal of NuMIND, a group of young Chilean scientists dedicated to investigate the relationship between the balance of excitation and inhibition in neural communication and the emergence of various neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. Our country has a high prevalence of these diseases and treatments are not fully effective, placing a huge burden on the emotional and economic wellbeing of individuals, their families and society.
Using molecular precision tools, such as viral vectors, optogenetics and transgenic technology, the scientists of NuMIND can alter communication between specific groups of neurons, and then assess the electrical brain activity and the behavior resulting from these manipulations. Through these studies, we seek to understand what rules govern the balance between excitation and inhibition and how we can use them to our advantage to heal or relieve those who suffer these disorders.