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Stanford scientists paint nuanced picture of brain system regulating moods, movements

a 3D rendering image of part of a mouse brain
Image credit: Jing Ren
Aug 23 2018
Fellow, Research, Stanford

As Liqun Luo was writing his introductory textbook on neuroscience in 2012, he found himself in a quandary. He needed to include a section about a vital system in the brain controlled by the chemical messenger serotonin, which has been implicated in everything from mood to movement regulation. But the research was still far from clear on what effect serotonin has on the mammalian brain.

“Scientists were reporting divergent findings,” said Luo, who is the Ann and Bill Swindells Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. “Some found that serotonin promotes pleasure. Another group said that it increases anxiety while suppressing locomotion, while others argued the opposite.”

Coauthor Jing Xiong is a 2012 Scott A. and Geraldine D. Macomber Stanford Graduate Fellow.