University of Sydney scholars find that medications that boost the effect of natural brain opioids might may be better at reducing anxiety than drugs like morphine, which have major side effects. The signals of specialied neural circuits and synapse activity in the brain’s amygdala pass electrical and chemical signals to control our emotions and anxiety. Over-expression of these signals can lead to prolonged and disabling anxiety disorders. The researchers in this study seek to redirect research efforts toward a better understanding of the brain’s signals and how that understanding might help scientist to help the brain in controlling our fear. For example, previous experiments in mice have shown that ‘deleting’ the natural opioid enkephalin, which is heavily expressed in the brain’s amygdala, increases their fear, anxiety and aggressiveness. By contrast, increasing enkephalin or reducing its breakdown reduces these behaviours. By contrast, however, whe enkephalin bids to different receptor in the amygdala, it exerts opposing effects, depending on which one it binds to. The scholars conclude that better understanding the cellular actions of such natural opiods such as enkephalin is critical if we hope to help the brain control emotional issues using opiod-related medications.