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Inhibition and excitation in the brain


   School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences

   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

An appropriate balance between excitatory and inhibitory neural processes in the brain underlies healthy psychological function. Two examples of conditions in which there is an imbalance are autism and ADHD. In these two cases there is a relative lack of GABA, which is the main neurotransmitter underlying the inhibitory side of the balance. There is also some evidence of a similar imbalance in anxiety disorders. Motivated by these observations, this research project explores ways of increasing the inhibitory (GABAergic) function in the brain. One approach to doing this is through dietary interventions, particularly using metabolic precursors of neurotransmitters. I have recently shown that high doses of Vitamin B6, a precursor of GABA, increases neural inhibition. An important next step will be to test other potential dietary interventions, and after that to test whether cocktails of multiple ingredients have greater efficacy when delivered together. Other approaches to modifying neurotransmitter balance could be behavioural in nature, .e.g. meditation. Levels of GABA in the brain can be approximated using carefully designed behavioural tests, or measured more directly using MRI. Please contact Dr David Field with informal enquiries. ()


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