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Hormone May Govern Emotional Responses

Finding could offer insight into treatment of behavioral disorders

WEDNESDAY, April 28, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- There's a correlation between a hormone called secretin and how the brain responds to emotional stimuli.

Harvard researchers presented that finding April 27 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in San Francisco.

This research may offer new insight into treatment of certain behavioral disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, autism and bipolar illness.

Previous studies have found that people with those behavioral disorders have abnormal amygdala activation in response to social stimuli, including facial expressions made by other people. The amygdala, an almond-shaped structure in the brain, plays a critical role in emotional learning and response.

Recent research suggests the hormone secretin, which is found in brain tissue, may help control amygdala response.

"We wanted to test the hypotheses that administration of secretin alters amygdala responsiveness to affective stimuli in healthy adult males," study author Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, of McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said in a prepared statement.

"Results of our study support the hypotheses that secretin alters amygdala responsiveness to affective stimuli," she said.

More information

The National Mental Health Association has information about bipolar disorder.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, April 28, 2004
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