Fragile X and the Amygdala — Sumantra Chattarji, PhD — India

Sumantra Chattarji, PhDAbnormalities of synaptic plasticity in the fragile X amygdala

FRAXA Awards:

$10,000 in 2016
$10,050 in 2015
$30,000 in 2008
$30,000 in 2007
$30,000 in 2005

by Sumantra Chattarji

Most Fragile X studies to date have focused on the hippocampus, cerebellum, and cortex. However, emotional or mood-related symptoms of Fragile X, including anxiety and aggression, are likely to involve changes in the amygdala (the brain’s central emotion processor). No comprehensive studies have examined amygdalar plasticity in Fragile X syndrome.

We are building on our findings on amygdalar function that relate to three key elements of the disease – spine morphology, mGluR-mediated synaptic plasticity, and anxiety-like behavior.

Memories come in many different flavors, some more potent than others. Emotionally significant experiences tend to be well remembered, and the amygdala has a pivotal role in this process. But the rapid and efficient encoding of emotional memories can become maladaptive — severe stress often turns them into a source of chronic anxiety. What are the cellular mechanisms underlying these powerful emotional symptoms?

FRAXA investigator Sumantra Chattarji and India Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi
FRAXA investigator Sumantra Chattarji and India Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited FRAXA investigator Dr. Sumantra Chattarji at new brain center in Bangalore

Dr. Chattarji writes that it was quite a memorable experience!

“My new center, which focuses on Fragile X Syndrome and other autism-related disorders and intellectual disabilities, owes its roots to the days when you all initiated me into Fragile X research and supported me when I was a complete novice in the field! So, this is indeed a tribute to your vision and trust in me.”