Why scratching makes you itch more

Turns out your mom was right: scratching an itch only makes it worse. New research from scientists at the Center for the Study of Itch at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reveals that scratching causes the brain to release serotonin, which intensifies the itch sensation.

Some autism behaviors linked to altered gene

Scientists have identified a genetic mutation that may underlie common behaviors seen in some people with autism, such as difficulty communicating and resistance to change. The mutation disrupts levels of serotonin, a chemical messenger produced by a limited number of neurons (red) in the brain.

Low receptor levels and low mood

Areas of red and yellow show increased uptake of the altanserin tracer due to binding to the serotonin receptors.Most of us feel sad from time to time, even very sad, but during a bout of clinical depression, a person is unable to escape their low mood for several weeks at a time. A popular and effective treatment for depression involves a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Those drugs increase serotonin levels in the brain and help relieve symptoms of depression, and most scientists believe the brain chemical serotonin plays a key role in depression. Now neuroscience researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that in people who are depressed, a key brain structure has an abnormally low number of cellular serotonin receptors.