Depression is one of the most common and most debilitating mental health disorders, affecting some 17 million adults in the US. It also continues to be a misunderstood, often hard-to-treat illness. Researchers have worked for decades to better understand the neurobiology underpinning depression.
For patients with severe, treatment-resistant depression, spending months or even years searching for good treatments can be totally disabling. The prevailing hypothesis for years was that depression was regulated by the neurotransmitter’s serotonin and norepinephrine.
Eventually, data began to suggest that maybe something much larger and more global was involved in the brain to account for depression, which led researchers to begin working with glutamate and GABA, the most abundant neurotransmitters in the brain. These chemicals are involved in neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to adapt to change and protect itself against stressful events.
Neuroplasticity is a physical thing, too: it manifests itself “in terms of synapses, how these neurons are actually touching each other and communicating with each other,” explains Gerard Sanacora, PhD, MD, Director of the Yale Depression Research Program. “And we know that in depression, the number and strength of these interconnections decreases,” says Rachel Katz, MD, a professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Yale.
Ketamine – originally developed and still used as an anesthetic – works on those two neurotransmitters and was discovered to have rapid antidepressant effects. Some experience an improvement in symptoms in 24 hours or less. “We think that one of the things that Ketamine does, that helps to explain its antidepressant effects, is help the brain to regrow the synapses, the connections between nerve cells,” says John Krystal, MD, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale.
First this week, Staff Writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the paradox of metabolically healthy obesity. They chat about the latest research into the relationships between markers of metabolic health—such as glucose or cholesterol levels in the blood—and obesity. They aren’t as tied as you might think.
Next, Colin Dayan, professor of clinical diabetes and metabolism at Cardiff University and senior clinical researcher at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, joins Sarah to discuss his contribution to a special issue on type 1 diabetes. In his review, Colin and colleagues lay out research into how type 1 diabetes can be detected early, delayed, and maybe even one day prevented. Finally, in the first of a six-patrt series of book interviews on race and science, guest host Angela Saini talks with author and professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Samuel Redman, about his book Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums. The two discuss the legacy of human bone collecting and racism in museums today.
‘No other spot brings me sweeter memories,’ remarked the poet W. H. Auden about the Lord Crewe Arms. 90 years later, the beauty of this historic bolthole, on the Northumberland/Co Durham border, hasn’t changed.
In the village of Blanchland, the 12th-century building was originally a guest house for Blanchland Abbey. Today, the Calcot Collection runs the show and the company’s clever touches — as seen in Barnsley House — shine through.
The superb food is modern British with big flavours, made using local produce. After cocktails in the barrel-vaulted Crypt Bar, we feasted in the elegant dining room: my favourite dish was the super succulent roasted guinea hen with a garden herb sauce.
Researchers debate whether an ancient fossil is the oldest animal yet discovered, and a new way to eavesdrop on glaciers.
In this episode:
01:04 Early sponge
This week in Nature, a researcher claims to have found a fossil sponge from 890-million-years-ago. If confirmed, this would be more than 300-million-years older than the earliest uncontested animal fossils but not all palaeontologists are convinced.
We hear about one researcher’s unorthodox attempt to listen in to the seismic-whisper at the foot of a Greenland glacier – a method that might reveal more about conditions under these enormous blocks of ice.
Inventories of the wide-body planes are piling up, as deliveries remain halted A new defect on Boeing’s Dreamliner aircraft surfaced in July, the latest in a series of issues that arose late last summer. Deliveries of the popular plane are now halted, pressuring Boeing’s profits. WSJ’s Andrew Tangel explains how Boeing got here. Photo: Bloomberg News
Every year, about a third of Americans spend at least some time on a boat. In the landscape of recreational power sports, which includes boats, some categories have seen their fair share of struggles in recent years. But boat industry revenues have been mostly growing. Boat sales have seen a boost during Covid, but some analysts think the growth is poised to continue.
Mumbai’s Coastal Road Project is a bold show of India’s construction capabilities, but it’s sparked protests and legal battles on the ground.
The Coastal Road is an under construction 8-lane, 22.2-km long freeway that would run along Mumbai’s western coastline connecting Marine Lines in the south to Kandivali in the north.
Mumbai (formerly called Bombay) is a densely populated city on India’s west coast. A financial center, it’s India’s largest city. On the Mumbai Harbour waterfront stands the iconic Gateway of India stone arch, built by the British Raj in 1924. Offshore, nearby Elephanta Island holds ancient cave temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The city’s also famous as the heart of the Bollywood film industry.