(Marty) #1

months after a student reports
stress, his sperm shows changes in
“small noncoding RNAs”—RNA
molecules that do not get translated
to protein but instead control which
genes get turned on or off.
Analyzing sperm from this group
of healthy young men, the research-
ers plan to build a basic understand-
ing of molecular changes linked with
mild stresses such as taking final
exams. In the future Bale and her
colleagues hope to compare these
baseline fluctuations with changes
induced by more prolonged life
stressors such as post-traumatic
stress disorder or neurological
diseases such as autism and
The molecular signatures in
extracellular vesicles may also help
researchers discover new ways to
noninvasively diagnose or predict
adverse health outcomes in off-
spring, says Gerlinde Metz, who
studies transgenerational inheri-
tance of stress responses at the
University of Lethbridge in Alberta
and was not involved with the
research. If so, the vesicles could
become the basis for a pioneering
type of stress test.
—Esther Landhuis

Deep-Brain Record-
ings May Show Where
Unhappiness Lives
New recordings of electrical activity
in the brain help reveal the under-
pinnings of bad moods

closer to understanding why some
bad moods seem to tumble uncon-
trollably through your head like a
collapsing chain of dominoes. One
misbegotten thought after another
drives you to imagine frightful things
to come or to relive your shameful
past: “Remember that one thing five

years ago? Wow, I really am a loser.”
The spiral into such a mood may
occur in a brain network that
connects two key regions involved
with memory and negative emotions,
says psychiatrist Vikaas Sohal of the
University of California, San Francis-
co. In a study he co-authored,
published in November in Cell, Sohal GETTY IMAGES


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