UCLA researchers have created a new research tool to identify different types of brain cells that regulate social and emotional behavior.
In a study published Oct. 11, researchers from various departments including the David Geffen School of Medicine developed a technical method called Act-seq, which analyzes cell’s gene expressions.
The Act-seq method helps distinguish the different types and functions of cells in the amygdala region of the brain, which is involved in emotional and social behaviors, researchers said in a press release. Using this method, researchers have found 16 different types of neurons and more non-neuronal cells, according to the press release.
The researchers said distinguishing between the different types of brain cells in the region can help determine which are linked to mental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder and depression. For example, researchers found two types of neurons that played a role in stress-related behaviors. The researchers added the new method can determine changes to the brain following disease or injury.
Researchers hope to use the Act-seq method to further investigate the role of other types of neurons in the amygdala on mental and behavioral disorders.