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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The therapeutic effects of projection-specific optogenetic stimulation in an animal model of social anxiety disorder

  • Author(s): Tran, Amanda
  • Advisor(s): Lim, Byungkook
  • et al.

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, is a major physical and mental health concern with a high lifetime prevalence. Despite being the most common anxiety disorder, current treatment options available are unsatisfactory among SAD patients. Therefore, we adapted a social fear conditioning (SFC) paradigm to mimic the main behavioral symptoms of SAD of humans in mice. In this protocol, social fear is induced by administering foot shocks during social interaction with an unknown conspecific. This form of conditioning did not induce any other behavioral alterations such as general anxiety. The negative social experience inducing social fear in this animal model and SAD patients satisfies construct validity, whereas the similarity in behavioral phenotypes satisfies face validity. After establishing that our model of social fear has face and construct validity, we aim to assess 1) whether this model has predictive validity, and 2) test the therapeutic efficacies of three novel therapeutic strategies: cognitive behavioral therapy, pharmacological selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor, and targeted brain stimulation.

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