Nerve cells from the nose are helping scientists study the neural basis of bipolar disorder, the condition often known as manic depression.
These cells, called olfactory receptor neurons, are located just inside the nose, and are similar in many ways to cells within the brain, but are easier (and safer) to get to.
The research team, led by Professor Chang-Gyu Hahn, examined how these cells reacted in people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, when compared to the same cells from people without the condition.
Calcium is an important part of how a nerve generates a signal (known as an action potential) and the olfactory receptor neurons from the bipolar group showed much less calcium activity than the control group.
This study provides important clues about how differences in neural signalling may be related to emotion and mood regulation, and describes an innovative approach to researching nerve signals in humans.