There is a fair amount of evidence in mice for antidepressants to work via increased plasticity in the brain. This means greater generation and integration of new neurons, and more restructuring of synaptic connections between neurons. In mice, plasticity is lost with age, and here researchers show that a commonly used antidepressant can restore some of that loss. It remains an interesting question as to how much of this mouse research does in fact translate to humans; of late the data regarding plasticity of the human brain has been mixed, suggesting that there may be significant differences between humans and mice in this matter.
In the study the researchers focused on the aging of inhibitory interneurons which is less well understood than that of excitatory neurons, but potentially more crucial to plasticity. The team counted and chronically tracked the structure of inhibitory interneurons in dozens of mice aged to 3, 6, 9, 12 and 18 months (mice are mature by 3 months, live for about 2 years, and 18-month-old mice are already considered quite old). Previous work has shown that inhibitory interneurons retain the ability to dynamically remodel into adulthood. But the team now shows that new
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