Knocking out a gene in the brains of mice can counteract an aversion to social interactions, according to researchers at Yale and the University of Texas South-western Medical Center at Dallas.
The scientists conditioned mice to avoid mice they didn’t know by exposing them to more aggressive mice. Then, using viral technology developed by Ralph J. DiLeone, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale and a co-author of the report that appeared in the journal Science in February, the researchers inactivated a gene called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
Mice without BDNF did not develop defeated behavior, DiLeone said, suggesting that the gene is essential to developing social aversion as a response to aggressive behavior.
“The results have implications for a number of psychiatric conditions, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, where stressful events can have significant and long-lasting consequences for social behavior and interactions,” DiLeone said.