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Brain Res. 2010 Mar 4;1317:157-64. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2009.12.059. Epub 2010 Jan 4.

Progressive vestibular mutation leads to elevated anxiety.

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Psychobiology Research Unit, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.


Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental disorders, and are comorbid with balance disorders in a significant proportion of these individuals. Presently, it is unclear whether anxiety and balance disorders are causally related, and what direction this causality may take. We argue that balance disorders may predispose an individual to anxiety and that demonstration of such causality may be informative to the development of preferred treatment for such individuals. To demonstrate that balance disorders may predispose to anxiety, we studied headbanger (Hdb) mutant mice in which the balance disorder is due to progressive vestibular impairment and wildtype (Wt) mice. Balance was assessed by swim and tail-hang tests that demonstrated clear behavioral balance deficits in the Hdb mice. Anxiety was assessed by open-field and elevated plus-maze tests, which confirmed elevated anxiety in the Hdb mice. These findings demonstrate that congenital vestibular genotype predisposes the animal to elevated levels of anxiety in space-related tests. Similar causality in clinics may redirect treatment strategies in afflicted patients.

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