Brain inhibition plays a vital role in fashioning the activity of the nervous system and consequently our behaviour. Its importance for anxiety, and subsequently as a therapeutic target, was highlighted decades ago by the development and use of the benzodiazepine class of drugs that target specific neurotransmitter receptors. Here, by taking a reductionist molecular and cellular approach, we will explore how endogenous molecules in the brain may impact on the innate level of anxiety.
According to the World Health Organisation, depression is the leading cause of disability for adolescents. Yet, we only have a rudimentary understanding of the mechanisms underlying depression and many challenges have arisen concerning its measurement and validity. I propose that this owes partly to the insularity of the field and the lack of genuine inter-disciplinary work. I will try to give an overview of what I believe to be promising areas of collaboration with basic science, engineering, but also with the humanities.
Children and young people’s mental health is an area of considerable societal need and has been the focus of a number of recent research council and charity funding initiatives. It is also one of the UCL Mental Health Research Strategy priority areas. UCL has substantial research strengths, across multiple domains, that can and should be at the forefront of leading innovative, cross-disciplinary work in this area.
The UCL Catalyst seminar series is intended to spark fresh thinking and debate, featuring cutting-edge UCL research relevant for children and young people’s mental health and facilitating new connections between scientists working in different disciplines.